Child, fears

When children are afraid of Santa Claus

When children are afraid of Santa Claus

Gifts with Santa Claus – How parents can ease children’s fears of Santa Claus

For many families it is a tradition on Christmas Eve: shortly after dusk there is a knock on the door and Santa Claus stands in front of it with a sack full of presents. Many children look forward to this event and have already prepared themselves with songs and poems to be recited to Santa. However, there are children for whom the bearded, strange man is scary and who then seek shelter with parents or grandparents. Where does this fear come from and how should parents react to it?

Where does the Santa Claus custom actually come from?

Santa Claus as the bearer of gifts is particularly widespread in Protestant countries. The origin of this custom is probably rooted in legends about Bishop Nicholas of Myra, who gave presents to the needy. His memorial day, December 6, was originally also the day of Christmas gift-giving. In the course of the Reformation, Christmas gift-giving was moved to December 24 and Santa Claus appeared as the gift-bringer. He is usually depicted as a kind, old gentleman with a white beard and red clothes, who comes into the house with a gift bag and a rod. In the past, it was then often said that the good children receive the gifts and the naughty beat with the rod – a tradition that is probably now outdated.


Why are some children afraid of Santa Claus?

During the Christmas season, Santa Claus is not only encountered at the gift-giving ceremony on Christmas Eve; he is also frequently seen on the street, in department stores, in shopping malls or at events. There are parents who then, for example, urge their children to pose for a photo with Santa Claus. Especially children who have not had much contact with strangers can then react in a frightened manner. It can also become problematic if parents or other relatives frequently threaten Santa Claus during the year and think that if the child does not obey, he will come with the rod or not bring any Christmas presents. Finally, it is even claimed that Santa knows and sees everything. Here no one has to be surprised if the fear of Santa Claus in the end clouds the joy of the gifts.

Read also: When children are afraid of strangers

How can parents take away children’s fear of Santa Claus?

Parents who want Santa to give presents at Christmas should first consider how their children normally react to strangers. It is also important to make the figure of Santa Claus a positive one. This is possible, for example, by watching Christmas movies and books together. Under no circumstances should Santa’s gift-giving be used as a means of education. On Christmas Eve, waiting for Santa Claus can be transformed into anticipation through gentle preparation. (Waiting for Santa Claus) Whoever impersonates him, for example a relative or a student, is attuned in advance to any fears the child may have, so as not to fuel them during the Bescherung. The parents, grandparents, or older siblings signal to an anxious child that they are there to help. Also, avoid forcing the child to recite poems or sing Christmas carols. If the child experiences a relaxed and pleasant first visit of Santa Claus, he will certainly be welcomed next year with pleasure and without fear.

When should you order Santa Claus?

Unfortunately, this question can not be answered in a general way. If Santa Claus is coming to your house for the first time, it might be better if it is an acquaintance, relative or neighbor, who can be cancelled at short notice in an emergency – if the child is too scared. Nevertheless, make an appointment as early as possible (around the end of November / beginning of December). If you want to hire an agency to send a Santa Claus, you should try to make an appointment in October at the latest. If you suspect that your child is afraid of Santa Claus, you should indicate this when booking the appointment.