Does Your Kid Want to Sit on Santa’s Lap? If Not, Here’s How to Help Them Enjoy Santa!

For many families, taking a trip to the mall to sit on Santa's lap and snap a few photos as the kids share their wishlist with him is an important holiday tradition. While this tradition often brings lots of joy to older preschoolers and early elementary school-aged kids, for kids who may be shy, young, or simply not comfortable sitting on a strangers lap, this transition can be stressful, anxiety-provoking, or downright terrifying.

If you have a child who is not enthusiastic about sitting on Santa's lap, it’s important that you listen to them and don’t pressure or force them into doing something they’re not comfortable with. Research shows that when parents respect kids boundaries kids are better at advocating for themselves and at respecting the boundaries of others. Not pushing a reluctant child to sit on Santa's lap is a perfect opportunity for parents to show their child that they respect their boundaries. If your child wants to connect with Santa but is not interested in sitting on his lap, consider offering these awesome alternatives!

Santa's lap
Image via Flickr/ Howard Cheng

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Write Santa a Letter

Writing a letter to Santa is a classic way for kids to say hello to the man in the big red suit and share their holiday wishlist. If your child wants to communicate with Santa but getting up close doesn't feel comfortable, work with them to write a letter to Santa. For younger kids, drawing and mailing a picture can have the same effect. These letters can be just as wonderful to look back on as any picture.

Send Santa a Video

Just as the way people communicate with one another has shifted as technology has evolved, the way kids communicate with Santa can, too. If your child is not confident in their writing abilities, consider offering to record a video of them for Santa. While Santa doesn’t have a phone number that I know, most kids will be satisfied if you let them know you texted him their message!

Stand Next to Santa

Just because a child does not want to sit on Santa's lap doesn't mean they don’t want to visit with him at all. Let your kiddo know that they are more than welcome to chat with Santa as they stand next to him or even while you hold their hand if that’s what makes them comfortable.

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Read about Santa

For younger kids, simply talking about Santa can help them feel connected to the tradition. Read stories about Santa, talk about what he might be doing, and let them ask as many questions as they’d like. Chances are, they might become more interested in meeting him as they get older. If not though, you’ll keep on respecting their wishes and helping them identify other fun holiday traditions!

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Does Your Kid Want to Sit on Santa’s Lap? If Not, Here’s How to Help Them Enjoy Santa!

Julia Pelly has a master's degree in public health and works full time in the field of positive youth development. Julia loves hiking after work, swimming during the summer and taking long, cuddly afternoon naps with her two sons on the weekends. Julia lives in North Carolina, with her husband and two young boys. You can find more of her work at JuliaPelly.com ... More

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