What to do when kids are scared of Santa

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For families with young children, a Christmas-time trip to see Santa Claus can include more screams than a Halloween haunted house.

Sometimes, children are just plain scared of St. Nick.

Dr. Jennifer Snder, a pediatrician at Memorial Physician Services-Coke Mill and a mother of two, offers a few suggestions for parents preparing to take their young children to see Santa.

“Keep in mind, children might be afraid of Santa for a multitude of reasons-his beard, clothing, voice, size,” Snyder said in a press release. “Fears of Santa are normal in the roughly 1-to-6 year age bracket, so don’t be concerned something is wrong with your child’s development.”

Snyder recommends families take a few extra steps to make visits with Santa easier:

  • Familiarize children with Santa by reading books or watching movies that portray him in a positive light.
  • Make a wish list for Santa and take it to the mailbox; talking about Santa with children helps make him a comfortable character.
  • Do a “trial run” by visiting a mall once and walking by Santa so kids can see other children on Santa’s lap.
  • Take one for the team by offering to sit on Santa’s lap first to show your child it is okay. It could also make for a fun photo op and help lighten the mood.
  • Don’t punish a child or make him or her feel bad if they are afraid of Santa. Snyder says this is a developmental stage they will eventually outgrow.
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