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9 ways to tell your children Santa isn’t real

Are you petrified your children are going to work out the truth this year? Find out how to make this easier and keep the magic of Christmas alive!

Keeping the Magic of Santa

It’s every parent’s fear at this time of year. The fear your child will find out that the person who fills their stocking and polishes off the snacks left out by the fireplace, isn’t really the big guy in the red suit and white beard, it’s actually you, the parent.

How you go about tackling this – and whether you choose to tell them the truth at all – is very much up to you. Christmas is what you make it – there’s no right or wrong answer.

But if you’re worried about how to deal with your child’s inquisitiveness or you’re nervous that they might ruin the magic for younger siblings, read on for some creative ideas on what to say.

1. Keeping the Christmas spirit alive

If your child is getting to an age where you think they might suspect something, you can feel pressured to have a conversation with them. But what if you ruin the magic for them by telling the truth?

Think back to your childhood and how you felt at their age. Did your parents tell you the truth and did it ruin the magic for you? Or did you come to your own conclusions and play along for the sake of keeping the Christmas spirit alive?

Children learn and develop in their own time, so just because your child’s friends don’t believe in Father Christmas, doesn’t mean your child is ready to stop believing.

There’s no reason to say anything to your child at all, unless they come to you and ask. They’ll eventually draw their own conclusions and realise the effort you put into making Christmas magical for them. Then, hopefully one day, they’ll pass that magic onto their families.

2. Answering the dreaded question

“Mum, is Santa real?”

Your immediate reaction might be to say: “Of course!”

But what if your child probes a little more? It’s difficult to sound convincing when you’re put on the spot and aren’t sure what to say.

The best advice is to keep it short and simple. Don’t come up with an elaborate story unless you’re confident you can deliver it without tripping yourself up.

Here’s a few simple responses you can use:

  • Those who don’t believe, don’t receive

  • If you choose not to believe, then that’s up to you

  • Just because you don’t believe, doesn’t make it untrue. People have all kinds of different beliefs – like how the world was made or whether ghosts and UFOs are real

3. Santa is an idea

Once they’re old enough to understand, you could explain that Santa isn’t really an old man with a white beard and red suit. That’s what everyone tells the little kids because they’re too young to understand the true nature of Santa Claus.

The truth is, he's not a person at all – he's an idea. Get them to think of all those presents Santa gave them over the years. Explain that you actually bought those yourself and that Santa Claus is the idea of giving for the sake of giving, without thanks or acknowledgement.

Tell them that now they know the truth, they’re part of it, too, and can never tell a younger child the secret. They have to help select Santa presents for younger siblings, and most importantly, they have to look for opportunities to help people.

4. There’s no single Santa

Similarly, a popular response when tackled on whether Santa Claus is real is that Santa enlists the help of mummies and daddies around the world to buy presents and fill children’s stockings in order to keep the Christmas spirit alive. Because, even with all the magic in the world, it’d still be impossible for one person to fly around the world and deliver all the presents in one night.

5. Joining the team

If you’re confident that your child knows the truth and you’re worried about them letting the secret out to their younger siblings, you could try the following technique.

Leave them a note that says:

“Congratulations! You’re now old enough to join Santa’s team.”

Explain to them that they’re now old enough to help Santa do his job, because it’s impossible for one man to do alone. They need to help you keep the Christmas magic alive for their little brother(s) and/or sister(s), by helping to fill the stockings and take a bite out of the mince pie you leave by the fireplace, for instance.

We all know how children love to keep secrets and enjoy having one up on their siblings, so make it a big deal that it’s strictly between you and them…and Santa!

6. Ask Alexa

If you don’t want to be the one to lie or are worried about how to keep up the pretence, get your child to ask a virtual assistant like Alexa, Siri, or your Google Home. They can offer some elaborate and creative responses, keeping your conscience clear.

7. Keeping the legend alive

You could take the historical route telling them about the legend of St Nicholas.

Explain that a long time ago, there was a man called St Nicholas, who gave gifts to poor people. Nowadays, people around the world keep the cultural traditions and heritage of St Nicholas alive.

8. Keep believing

If your child tells you they don’t believe in Santa anymore, you could tell them that once they stop believing, it becomes the parents’ job to buy the presents, and it depends what you (as the parent) can afford that year as to how many presents they get.

Tell them that if they want to keep getting the good presents, they need to keep believing!

You could then break into a chorus of Don’t stop believin’ by 80s rock band, Journey, and watch as they cringe with embarrassment!

9. What does Santa stand for?

Santa doesn’t have to be the old man with the white beard in the red suit. It can be an acronym. Tell them that A SANTA stands for A Secret And Never Telling Anyone.

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