How to ensure your child doesn't have a meltdown while meeting Santa

Avoid uncomfortable clothes, make sure they’re well rested and NEVER say ‘Santa’s not going to hurt you’: How YOU can ensure your child doesn’t have a meltdown while meeting Father Christmas – and what to do if they do start freaking out

  • Bringing children to meet Santa Claus has become a wildly popular holiday tradition – but sometimes, the moment doesn’t always go as planned
  • Oftentimes, what’s expected to be a magical meet and greet quickly turns to chaos when youngsters become terrified of the jolly, bearded guy
  • Some kids erupt into tears or throw massive temper tantrums – but who can blame them? Being put onto a stranger’s lap can certainly be scary
  • It turns out, there are tons of things that you can do to prepare your child for the photo op with Santa and ensure they won’t have a meltdown during it
  • It’s important that your child has a positive perception of Santa – showing them books about him could help make it so it’s not a foreign concept to them
  • In addition, you should make sure your child is well rested and well fed before the visit, and try not to dress them in clothes that may be uncomfortable

Bringing your child to meet Santa Claus has become a wildly popular holiday tradition – and while many kids look forward to the chance to sit on Old Saint Nick’s lap and tell him what they want for Christmas, sometimes, the moment doesn’t always go as planned.

Oftentimes, what’s expected to be a magical meet and greet quickly turns to chaos when youngsters become terrified of the jolly, bearded guy – erupting in tears, throwing massive temper tantrums and leaving parents frustrated.

But who can blame them? Being put onto a stranger’s lap can certainly be scary or overwhelming, especially with a ton of people watching and cameras in their face.

But it turns out, there are actually tons of things that you can do to prepare your child for their visit with Santa and ensure they won’t have a meltdown during the precious moment.

A series of employees who work at Santaland – one of Dallas, Texas’ ‘most immersive Christmas experiences’ – spoke to Fox News recently about the ways you can avoid a freak out when it comes time for a toddler to meet Father Christmas. 

Bringing your child to meet Santa Claus has become a wildly popular holiday tradition – but sometimes, the moment doesn’t always go as planned (stock photo)

Employees who work at Santaland – one of Dallas, Texas’ ‘most immersive Christmas experiences’ – spoke to Fox News about how you can prepare your tot for a visit with Santa

According to the staffers, it’s important that your child has a positive perception of Santa long before it’s time for them to meet him – and you can start preparing them by showing them books or movies that will make them more comfortable with the idea and ensure it’s not a foreign concept.

In addition, they suggested easing into the moment by bringing your tot to watch Santa meet other children a few days earlier, or by joining them during the first part of the photo op before leaving them on their own with Kris Kringle. 

They also explained why going with the flow and having a relaxed attitude on the day of the event is important in keeping your child in a good mood.  

According to the Santaland staffers, it’s also vital that you make sure your child is well rested and well fed before hand, don’t dress them in clothes that may be uncomfortable, and bring some of their favorite toys that can act as a distraction if things do start to go amiss.

From avoiding certain words and phrases while discussing Santa to picking the best time for the meet and greet, here’s everything you can do prepare your child for their visit with Santa and avoid tantrums when the time comes, as well as what you should do if your kid does start to throw a fit.

Try to help your kids have a positive perception of Santa before the visit by reading them books about Christmas

According to the Santaland employees, it’s important that your child has a positive perception of Santa Claus ahead of the visit.

They encouraged introducing the idea of Old Saint Nick to the tot long before the photo op through books or movies – so that it’s not a foreign concept to them.

‘You want to make sure that your kids have a relationship with Santa prior to actually coming here,’ one of Santaland’s photographers, Dejon, told Fox News. 

‘Whether it be seeing them on movies or even just visiting a mall where you might see a Santa out in the open.’

But you also don’t want to hype it up too much before hand, or it might make kids nervous – so it’s all about finding that perfect of getting them excited but also avoiding putting too much pressure on the moment.

Nina Spears, a birth and postpartum expert and the woman behind the popular blog, The Baby Chick, echoed these sentiments in an essay posted to her website.

‘Get your child excited about Santa at the beginning of the holiday season so that they already feel like they know him,’ she suggested. 

‘You want to make sure that your kids have a relationship with Santa prior to actually coming here,’ one of Santaland’s photographers, Dejon (seen), told Fox News

‘Tell stories about the jolly man who brings presents to girls and boys around the world, or share memories of what Santa meant to you as a kid.’

She also explained that you should be careful not to use any negative words while discussing Santa Claus with your toddler – because it might paint a ‘scary picture’ of him in the child’s eyes. 

‘If you prep your child by saying, “Don’t be afraid, Santa’s not going to hurt you,” you’ve introduced a possibility that may never have occurred to them,’ she wrote. 

‘Instead, talk about how fun it will be, and show your child a picture of a sibling or a cousin perched happily on Santa’s lap.

‘Avoid saying, “Don’t cry,” “Don’t be afraid,” or “Santa is not scary.” Do say: “This is so much fun,” “I like Santa,” or “Santa is so nice.” 

‘If you are going to “program” your child, do it with positive concepts that set the tone for the impending visit.’

Make sure they’re well rested and fed beforehand – and pick a time that works best with their schedule

Santaland employees reminded parents to make sure their kids are well rested and well fed before bringing them to meet Santa (stock photo)

While it might seem obvious, little things can put your youngster in a bad mood, so the Santaland employees reminded parents to make sure their kids are well rested and well fed before bringing them to meet Santa.

When a baby is hungry or tired, they’re much more likely to throw a tantrum over something they may otherwise enjoy.

Nina agreed, and added that it’s important to remember your child’s schedule when planning the North Pole trip.

‘Select a time for your visit to meet Santa when your child is at their brightest, best mood,’ she wrote.

‘You won’t want to go during nap time or close to bedtime. Some parents out there wonder why their three-year-old is pitching a fit about going to see Santa at 9:30 at night. 

‘You’ll have better results if you can arrange your schedule for a well-timed morning visit.’

In addition, it’s best to pick a time that will likely have the shortest lines and least amount of crowds if possible – since it’s easy for a child to become inpatient or overwhelmed. 

‘Waiting even 10 minutes, being dragged through the maze of velvet ropes, is tough for kids,’ Nina said. 

Bring their favorite toys and snacks just in case – but be careful not to give kids too much sugar beforehand

‘Make sure you pack their snacks and also their little favorite toys,’ one unnamed employee (seen) also suggested. ‘That way you can distract them so they can take a pretty photo’

It’s important to come prepared in case your child gets hungry while waiting on line.  Pack snacks, which can help their rumbling tummies and also act as a distraction if they start to get upset or nervous.

But Nina warned against giving them too much sweets beforehand – since sugar often affects their moods negatively when they begin to crash from the sugar high.

‘Avoid sweets, ice cream, sugary cookies, candy, and sodas in the couple of hours before your visit to meet Santa,’ she explained.

‘An apple, crackers, or string cheese as a snack will help you have a better visit. And hungry kids are likelier to act out.’

It’s also a good idea to bring some of their favorite toys. Santaland staffers told Fox that they often rely on props to distract or sooth upset children during Santa meet and greets – like ‘stuffed elves and bells’ – but explained that having something that’s comforting or familiar to them will make it even easier.

‘Make sure you pack their snacks and also their little favorite toys,’ one unnamed employee said. ‘That way you can distract them so they can take a pretty photo.’

While you may want to dress your child up for the photo, putting them in something comfortable is important

Parents often want their child to look great in the photo, but Holly (seen), a member of Santaland’s PR team, said you should fight the urge to dress your baby up in something fancy

Parents often want their child to look as beautiful or handsome as possible for the photo, but Holly, a member of Santaland’s PR team, said you should fight the urge to dress your baby up in something fancy since it might be uncomfortable to them.

Instead, she said you should have your child wear something that they would wear normally.

‘Don’t put them in something that they wouldn’t ordinarily wear,’ she said, adding: ‘Tights are sometimes uncomfortable for little girls.’

Go with the flow and make sure you don’t seem tense about it

‘Try not to fabricate the moments with Santa,’ one Santaland employee, named Emily (seen), suggested. ‘Just let them happen’

Another way to avoid meltdowns is to stay relaxed and go with the flow. Don’t try to force the moment to go a certain way, or it may completely backfire on you.

‘Try not to fabricate the moments with Santa,’ one Santaland employee named Emily suggested.

‘Just let them happen. If your kid is telling them their Christmas list, let them talk a little bit.’

Another worker named Alexa added: ‘If you have that serious energy, kids can get a little bit scared.’ 

It’s also a good idea not to rush your child if they’re taking a little extra time to warm up to Father Christmas.

Another worker, named Alexa, added, ‘If you have that serious energy, kids can get a little bit scared’

Nina suggested bringing them to watch Santa meet other children a few days before your own visit, so they could get accustomed to the idea.

‘Your goal is slow and steady, with no trauma. However long it takes your child to get seated is not a reflection of you being a good/bad parent,’ she pointed out.

‘Every child is different. Every Santa is different. Bells, lights, Christmas music, and this huge, red-suited, hairy guy are holiday traditions that our families taught us all. It’s very unfamiliar territory to your little one, so enjoy the process.

‘Also, children’s perception of time is very different from ours, so walk away, do some window shopping and return 20 minutes later… To a child, it’s now a whole new day.

‘Try again. Perhaps your child will get close enough for a high-five or a fist bump this time rather than just watching from afar. Keep working at it! Get a little closer each time.’

If things do start to go amiss, step in as quickly as possible to show your child they’re safe

It’s important to remember that if your child does start to get upset – that’s OK. Stay calm, and quickly step in to comfort the baby (stock photo)

But even if you do all of these things, Nina added that your child may still get freaked out when they come face-to-face with a ‘six-foot-tall, 300-pound, bell-jingling, ho-ho-ho’ing white hair covered stranger.’

It’s important to remember that if your child does start to get upset – that’s OK. Stay calm, and quickly step in to comfort the baby rather than trying to continue on with the shoot and force your tot to calm down from afar.

Dejon suggested joining in on the photoshoot if your child starts to get nervous – to show them that Santa is not something you should be scared of.

‘[If things start to go amiss], we’ll kind of have the parent go in there, even if they’re not intending to take a photo, and take a couple of photos with them and get really close to Santa just so they can know that Santa is not an enemy, so to speak,’ he explained.

Dejon suggested joining in on the photoshoot if your child starts to get nervous – to show them that Santa is not something you should be scared of

Nina agreed and explained how a child watching you have a positive interaction with Santa can ‘signal that it’s a safe situation.’

‘Let your child watch as you go up and greet and hug Santa. Sit next to Santa for a moment so your child understands you are signaling this is a “safe” situation,’ she said.

Another Santaland staffer warned against reprimanding or threatening a toddler if they do start throwing a tantrum – since it can just make things worse.

Instead, he said to focus on the positives and try to distract them by asking them to tell Santa what they want for Christmas.

‘The thing that causes the meltdown to go poorly is when you say if they act like that, Santa won’t give them what they want for Christmas, because then he’s the bad guy,’ the employee added. 

‘The most effective thing I’ve seen is to start talking about what they’re going to get for Christmas.’

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