What to do When Your Kids Stop Believing in Santa


Christmas time is magical for all of us. But look at this time of year through the eyes of your child – they try to be on their best behavior so that they can make it on the “good list” again. I remember this time so fondly. There were times when I would daydream about what Santa was doing while I was thinking about him. Was there an elf making MY gift in Santa’s workshop at that very moment? I was so captivated by the idea of believing in Santa!

Today, it could be the tradition of writing that letter or email and being certain that every list is perfect. There is an elf that lives in your homes, watches over your children and reports back to Santa if they have been good or bad. There are cookies that need to be baked and carrots that need to be purchased. Then on Christmas Eve, getting kids to bed while they anticipate the next morning – some of them trying to “sneak a peek” at Santa while he places all of those gifts under the tree. It’s simply magical! But what do you do when your child stops believing?

Mom, it’s a rough spot to be in – it really is. When your child starts thinking critically and begins to question how one man can deliver that many gifts in one night, or how he gets himself into an apartment if there is no fireplace…it’s a hard conversation to have. I had to have this discussion with a seven and a half-year-old that was too big too fast, and too smart for her own good. Here are some of the things that we discussed that fateful day.

I tried not to lie about Santa. I didn’t want her to lose trust in us. Instead, I explained to her that the magic of the season and believing in something so wonderful (giving and receiving) was an important part of Christmas. We talked about how important it is to keep that alive for her friends at school and especially her little brother.

We talked about the spirit of giving and what that means to people. That year, we shopped together, just the two of us, for a family that we “adopted”. We bought gifts for this family’s children along with food. We spent time wrapping the gifts and talking about how those kids will feel in the morning when they had gifts to open because she helped pass along the tradition of “Santa”.

Don’t tell your brother! He was just five and had a long way to go. I enlisted her help with him writing his letter to Santa so that it was legible. She did that with him for years. Every Christmas Eve I would stamp my husband’s work boots in flour and leave Santa’s footprints coming out of the fireplace to the tree. My daughter would play it up in the morning for her little brother and help vacuum it up so that I wouldn’t get mad at the mess that was left for me. I truly believe that the reason her brother believed in Santa for so long was because she helped keep that alive.

The most important thing with children is to let them decide when they are ready to tell you. Even if you think they don’t believe, just let it be. They will come to you when they are ready. Some of them wait longer than others. We held onto every bit of Christmas magic for as long as we could. We had an additional seven years of baking cookies and Santa’s boots making a mess on Christmas morning and I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

Check out our holiday guides for where to see Santa, lights and more!