We have a Santa-Phobe in our house. Sitting on his lap? Ha ha. She won’t even look down that wing of the mall where he sits. She hates anything with his picture on it. We’ve never had a picture of her sitting on Santa’s lap. She’s 3. I have one (1!!) of her with the Easter Bunny. She was 6 months old and didn’t know any better. The Easter Bunny ranks only a smidge behind Santa. Basically, she’s not going to mingle with any character. We don’t even bother with trips to Sesame Place.
Sound familiar to you? Here’s a fun article posted on The Today Show’s website.
What’s a parent to do with a little Santa-phobe?
The ho-ho-horror: If Santa freaks your kid out, don’t push it, experts advise
Ho, ho … EEK!
What’s a parent, or a Santa, to do when the obligatory Christmas photo op goes terrifyingly off the rails?
Fernando Martin remembers the moment well. Son Xandro was stunned into silence during his first visit to the Jolly One at age 21 months near home in Lancaster, Pa.
“They put up this tiny house with just Santa, an assistant and a heater,” dad recalled. “He got spooked. Santa offered him chocolates. He did not take them.”
There was no lap sitting, but there is a picture of a cringing Xandro in dad’s arms while Santa leans in. Now 4, Xandro hasn’t been back.
While thousands of little Santa believers do just fine every Christmas, the minority is far from silent. They cry. They shriek. They perform the death grip on a parent’s leg.
Many parents have been there: Overheated, overstimulated kids. Nap and snacks skipped to protect turf in line and avoid, heaven forbid, another Santa visit on another day in a mall full of crazed shoppers.
Then there’s Santa himself. Usually a fine specimen but sometimes sweaty, exhausted or otherwise sketchy, eyes peeking out of bushy white beard. Perhaps he’s less jolly after the 1,000th kid. Maybe he hasn’t been to Santa school.
Six-year-old Halle Harrison paid her first visit to Santa at age 2 with her three older siblings after a Christmas program that took forever in a small preschool gym in Nampa, Idaho.
“We waited in line for an eternity,” mom Taunia Kerner recalled. “I was about to lose my mind by the time we got up to Santa’s lap. I insisted everyone sit since we had waited for so long.” Her other kids did fine. Halle “went ballistic screaming, crying.”
The worst case scenario is when a parent fails to turn tail, hoping the situation will miraculously work out, said Krista Casler, a child development specialist at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster.
“The whole reason for doing it is it’s supposed to be fun, but some parents really want that photo,” she said.
They want it bad. They bribe. They yell. Worse, they take Santa to the dark side with threats of the naughty list and no gifts come Christmas Day if a child doesn’t smile.
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