Santa Claus: How to Introduce Toddlers to this Big Man

By Chris Thompson
Christmas for the little ones just isn’t complete without Santa Claus. This big, old man with the white long beard is pretty much THE symbol of Christmas for kids. Well, that and the presents under the tree, right?

I’ve noticed that a lot of children line up with their parents to sit on Santa’s lap, only to end up crying when they’re face to face with the big man. A bit of this is the parent’s fault. Imagine how scary it is to suddenly sit on a stranger’s lap and hear a loud “Ho! Ho! Ho!”

I saw this article on Yahoo! Shine and thought it would be helpful.

According to Ryan Johnson, there are three ways to introduce toddlers to Santa Claus: books, movies and TV and Dolls and figurines. Here’s an excerpt from Johnson’s article.


As with everything else, there are countless books out there for kids at Christmas. We started reading them last week, and she’s already totally into them. They’re what she goes for now when it’s time to read, and she loves the reindeer, elves, and Christmas trees. There’s one in particular, Christmastime is Here with the LittlePeople, that has a huge photo of Santa on the front, and contains pages and pages of flaps to lift. When she picks up that book, she yells out “Ho Ho Ho!,” knowing that’s Santa’s mantra. She’s able to pick him out on every page, and she gives a big smile when she sees him. However, a one-dimensional picture of Santa that doesn’t make any noise in a book is quite different than the real thing, so we also turn to…

Movies and TV

Like many children out there, my daughter is quite taken with the Sesame Street gang. She’s particularly fond of Elmo and loves to see him on TV. My husband and I both have programmed into our favorites on our computers, so we can quickly pull up a short video to give her a quick fix every once in a while. You can find just about any video you’re looking for, whether you’re searching by character or by topic. Learning to count? No problem. Potty training? The Muppets of Sesame Street can help. So, after a quick search, I found a cute little video of Elmo visiting Santa Claus up at the North Pole. Not only is Elmo excited to see Santa, but it goes into the spirit of Christmas and there’s a song to boot. But again, seeing Santa on TV isn’t quite the same thing as when he’s right in front of you, so we’ve also brought out some…

Dolls and Figurines

Unfortunately, the dolls we have around our house have given me an inkling as to what we’re in for when we go see Santa. Last night, we put her to bed and hauled out all of the decorations. We thought it would be fun to get it all done while she was asleep, and then have her walk through the house with everything glowing this morning when she woke up. And it was fun! She loved it and continued through every room with a look of wonder on her face. Until, that is, she spotted the two Santa dolls we have with our respective school logos on their sweaters. These Santas are probably 12 inches tall and are too cute. She took one look at them, furrowed her little brow, and took off running as fast as her little legs would carry her. My hope is that she’ll get used to them the more she sees them. Only time will tell. In the meantime, wish us luck with our visit to Santa. And if we do have the all-too-common photo of a screaming toddler and an exasperated Santa, at least we’ll have a great story to tell for years to come that will embarrass her to no end.

Now, don’t stop at the three suggestions Ryan gave here. These may or may not work on your child, so trying other things will definitely help. If you have already successfully introduced Santa Claus to your child, how did you do it? I’m sure other parents would like to know.

You have to remember to respect your child. If you wait in the mall lineup for 45 minutes only to have your child completely refuse to sit on Santa’s lap – that’s his or her choice. You can’t force him to do it. In fact I suggest prepping your child ahead of time. Ask him if he wants to sit on Santa’s lap. If he says no, don’t push the issue. It may only be Santa, but do you really want your child growing up thinking that he has to go sit on a stranger’s lap when you tell him to?