The coming-of-age question: ‘Is Santa real?’

(AP Photo/Sam Harrel)

(MEDIA GENERAL) — “Is Santa real?”

It’s the question parents of young children would gladly like to avoid.

The white-haired, plump, bearded man who travels throughout the night, eight reindeer in tow, delivering Christmas presents to all good children, “Is a lie!”

The day Santa ceases to exist in a household can be quite emotional for a child. Rather than dread the inevitable, be prepared with these simple tips.

Follow your child’s lead

According to WebMD, there is no perfect age or right time. Gauge your child’s readiness. It is likely friends at school will be the first to break the news. Children will start forming their own logic. “How can Santa travel around the world in one night? With different time zones?”  Multiple sightings of Santa at the mall and grocery store will also spark speculation. Some kids will catch their parents in the act of stowing presents under the tree.

Under any circumstance, it is important to acknowledge and praise your child’s critical thinking skills. Their ability to make logical inferences is a telling sign of their maturity.

Explain the history of Santa Claus and various traditions

Dutch Santa Claus known as 'Sinterklaas' rides through the Dutch quarter of Potsdam, Germany, Saturday Dec.11, 1999. Sinterklaas is visiting a Christmas market in this former Prussian town. (AP Photo/Sven Kaestner)
‘Sinterklaas’ rides through the Dutch quarter of Potsdam, Germany. (AP Photo/Sven Kaestner)

Reinforce that Santa is not one single entity. Discuss how different parts of the world celebrate Christmas and the various interpretations of Santa.

In the Netherlands, Sinterklaas is a slender man who rides a white horse. Sinterklass arrives each Dec. 5 during the day.

His entrance of choice is the front door, where he hands out candy. Sinterklaas helpers, Zwarte Pieten, are in charge of delivering the presents later that night.

Reinforce the moral values of Christmas

Santa instills in children the belief of hope and faith. Encourage them to embrace the season of giving and do nice things for others.

Create new traditions

(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

If there are younger siblings, allow your child to take part in wrapping their presents, filling the stockings and eating the treats left for Santa. In this way, they are contributing to carrying on the legacy of Santa Claus.

Don’t tell!

Kristen Dunfield, Professor of psychology at Concordia University, recommends setting boundaries with your child on how to navigate the discussion of Santa Claus around children who still partake in the tradition. Everyone has their own time when they are ready to hear the truth about Santa. Remind your child of their strong faith and belief in Santa Claus, and the importance not to divulge this information prematurely to classmates or friends.