Not sure how to navigate questions about Santa this Christmas? Getting prepared for future questions as your children get older? We know how it is. The story of Santa is so wonderful for children and adults alike, but the questions can get a bit tricky. 

That’s why the team at Sawyer is here to help you answer “Is Santa Claus real?”, figure out when you should tell your kids about Santa, and start some new family traditions to keep the magic alive.

Santa Claus story: How to tell kids about Santa

When children are little, most parents tell them the typical Santa Claus story. Santa lives on the North Pole and makes all of the Christmas presents with his team of elves. Each year, he flies around with his magical reindeer, slides down the chimney, and drops the presents.

Little ones generally accept this Santa Claus story with no problems. Of course, a large man with a white beard comes down the chimney, leaves them presents, eats some cookies, and then flies off in a sleigh pulled by magical reindeer. No duh!

There are countless Christmas books for kids that tell this story and reading them aloud to your children is a great way for them to remember the story and get excited for Christmas. Children also enjoy being involved in the Christmas activities like writing a letter to Santa, setting up the Christmas tree, and baking and decorating cookies. These activities help strengthen their love of the holiday and are also helpful for children to develop fine and gross motor skills. Learn more about the benefits of cooking with kids in our article.

As your children get a bit older, they might start to question the story. Maybe they are not yet ready for the complete truth, but they might be looking for some additional information. In this case, you can let them know about the origin of Santa. Saint Nicholas, the original Santa Claus, was a monk in Turkey who was known for his kindness towards others. As a saint, he was known as the protector of children (and sailors) and his good deeds led to the story of Santa.

Photo of Santa Claus story

When do kids stop believing in Santa?

There is no standard age that kids stop believing in Santa because, of course, every child is different and their circumstances can often affect their ability to believe in Santa. For example, younger siblings might have the news that Santa isn’t real spoiled for them by older siblings or children who grow up in mixed religion households might sense the Santa story doesn’t completely check out earlier in their lives.

However, House Method actually surveyed 4,500 Americans to find out that 8.4 years old is the average age in which kids stop believing in Santa. They broke their data down by state to show that children in Mississippi believe in Santa the longest (until 10.2 years old) and children in Oregon stop believing in Santa the earliest (7.4 years old). 

When should I tell my child the truth about Santa?

With this knowledge, you might be wondering when, “when should I tell my child the truth about Santa? Should I tell them at all or let them figure it out on their own?” These are good questions and honestly, it really is a matter of personal preference and your child’s own readiness. 

If your little one starts questioning Santa at a young age, a lot of parents reiterate the Santa story and redirect their question into excitement about the holiday. But, between 5 and 7 years old your child will begin to think more critically about the world around them and during this time it might be a good opportunity to speak with them about Santa.

When you break the news to them, keep the conversation light. Knowing this information can make them feel sad, so turn it around, and make them feel good for learning such a grownup secret. Ask them not to ruin the fun for younger siblings and friends, which is a great way to teach responsibility to kids

Dr. Emily Edlynn also suggests reminding your child that they can keep the teachings of Santa present during the holiday, even if they are too old to believe in him. She says, "Talking about the spirit of Santa — generosity, kindness, happiness — can help keep the magic alive, no matter our age."

Finally, if you are looking for something fun to tell your potentially crestfallen child, you can show them this Washington Post article, which highlights a man in New York who legally changed his name to Santa Claus and embodies the jolly old man.

Photo of when do kids stop believing in Santa?

Family Christmas traditions

Even before you tell your child about Santa, you might want to start adding some family traditions to your Christmas season repertoire that don’t revolve around our red-suited friend. That way, when they do learn the news, there will still be a lot of non-Santa-related joy to be had during the holiday season. Here are some of our favorite family Christmas traditions to give you inspiration.

Go on a Christmas lights safari

Checking out the Christmas lights in your neighborhood is a great way to get your family out of the house and enjoy the much earlier sunsets. Whether you live in the suburbs or in the city, there are a lot of great opportunities to see beautiful light displays all around you. Just remember to bundle up!

Make your own Christmas cards for family and those in need

Gathering the family together at the table for Christmas crafts is always a good idea. Create a family tradition of making DIY Christmas cards to use during the holidays. We also suggest sending some to deployed soldiers or residents in nursing homes who might not be able to spend the holidays with their families. This is a great way to create a tradition that embodies Santa’s spirit, even if your children don’t believe in him anymore.

Have a Christmas sing-along

Depending on the age of your children, they might prefer to just listen to Christmas music together rather than sing along. In any case, getting together and enjoying Christmas songs as a family is a great tradition. Light a fire or some candles, sip hot cocoa, and let the holiday spirits wash over you.

Photo of family Christmas traditions

We hope we’ve helped you feel comfortable talking to your children about Santa and answering their pressing questions. Remember, everyone is different, so listen to the needs of your child when discussing topics like this.

If you are looking for fun winter activities for kids including winter break camps and online and in-person classes, Sawyer has thousands of options for children of all ages. Have fun and Merry Christmas!

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