How to teach your kids to not believe in Santa

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My husband and I decided we were not going to do Santa with our kids. See my post about why we made this decision here. But we really struggled with how to do this without “ruining” Christmas. We didn’t want Santa to be taboo. We didn’t want to refrain from participating in Christmas events and activities in our community that involve Santa. We wanted our kids to be respectful of children that do believe in Santa. Here are some of the conversations we have with our children, starting as early as 2 years old.

When we see Santa at the mall or other places I explain to my children that the person is dressed up in a Saint Nicholas costume. I tell them that Saint Nicholas was a real person long ago and he was very generous and humble. He often did kind things for people in secret and expected nothing in return (similar to God). Around Christmas time people dress up like Saint Nicholas (Santa) in order to celebrate and remember the wonderful things that Saint Nicholas did. **I am sure to have this discussion when other children are not around to avoid displeasing other parents.

I also explain to them that some children believe that Santa is a real person. Sometimes people have different beliefs and opinions from us and that is ok. We should respect people for what they believe in. I tell my children that they can tell people about their own beliefs but should not argue with people about whether they are right or not. They should not force their beliefs on other people. We talk about respecting people with different beliefs often, not just at Christmas.

What if my child tells his friends Santa is not real? I have yet to encounter this situation. My plan is to tell my children to let their friends believe in Santa. They can support their friends without participating in believing Santa is real.

What about the extended family? My nieces and nephews do believe in Santa. I felt it was important to confront their parents and grandparents about our decision to not do Santa. This way they are not surprised when they find out. I leave it up to them to decide how to handle the situation. They usually just choose to avoid discussing Santa at family gatherings.

How to respond and how to teach my children to respond to questions and comments regarding Santa? We commonly encounter comments such as “What are you asking Santa for for Christmas?” or “Did Santa come to your house?” or “What did Santa bring you for Christmas?” These conversations can get awkward if I or my child mentions anything about not believing in Santa. So we simply say “Santa doesn’t come to our house.” I encourage my children to share with people the way we celebrate Christmas morning. (A blog post about that coming soon.)

What about pictures with Santa? My kids do take pictures with Santa. We don’t make a big to do about it. We don’t pay for it. We don’t force it. And we don’t make special trips to take pictures with Santa. But if there happens to be free pictures with Santa at a community event we go to, I’m not opposed to them. We usually get free pictures with Santa at a church event we go to every year. As a twist to the traditional Santa visit and in efforts to make Christmas a little less selfish, I may have my children bring a gift for Santa or instruct them to ask Santa what HE wants for Christmas.

How to celebrate Christmas morning? Our Christmas morning is loaded with Santa-free fun. Check out my post on Fun Ways to Make Christmas More about Jesus and Less about Santa.

In the comments below, please share any obstacles you have faced in your decision to not do Santa. I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas.

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