Santa Scares Some Kids
Some children, especially kids under the age of 5 years, may get upset and cry by a visit to Santa. The reason is because of the costume, mask, makeup, false beard, rosy cheeks, and deep “Ho, ho, ho” voice used by Santa. Toddlers have not yet mastered the concept of Object Constancy. It is hard for a young child to imagine that a human man can remain a human person while wearing a costume. In other words, the toddler sees Santa in his costume and believes Santa is a walking and talking alien in a costume. The child doesn’t understand that Santa is a real person who went in the other room and put a costume disguise on. A smaller percentage of children who may have an undiagnosed learning disability or perceptual problem may have a fear reaction to Santa Claus because of the visual perceptual distortion in Santa’s mask and make up. If your child is upset, afraid or cries when visiting Santa don’t force the visit. Instead, comfort your young child. Be sure you cozy up, put arm around your child, and give your child permission to express his fears and anger at you for taking him to see Santa before he was ready. Tell him you won’t do that again. Next time you will “ask” him if he wants to visit Santa. If he says no you will respect his wishes. An attuned sensitive parent follows her child’s lead.