Many parents can’t wait to Santa pictures with their small children in his lap during the month of December. However, if your scared child doesn’t share in your excitement, this seemingly fun event can be very stressful. Parents often think, “ I cannot wait to get that adorable Santa picture!” Well, it doesn’t always play out so nicely. Instead, our little ones act out their fears of Santa and a scared child often may hide behind us, kicking, screaming, and crying. Not exactly the nice Santa picture we all had in mind. This is especially difficult for children with sensory processing disorder. So what are we to do about this?
A Few Easy Steps to Make Santa Pictures More Enjoyable for You and Your Scared Child
- Plan ahead and help your scared child understand what this trip may look like. Describe what Santa will look like, what mall or shopping center you will go to, how he or he will do with Santa once you make it. You can use pictures to help paint a visual picture of the visit.
- Create a “what to expect” schedule of the visit and share it with your child. This will help your child anticipate what the visit will entail.
- Offer a small reward for behaving well during the trip. Encourage your child to be patient and well-mannered by offering an incentive for positive behavior. This does not have to cost a lot of money. Get creative and offer another form of encouragement.
- Use a social story like the one below to prepare children for the trip. I encourage parents to put one sentence on each page and make into a booklet using half-sheets of paper. Get creative with illustrations to help the scared child see how the event will look.
Mommy and Daddy are Taking Me for a Santa Picture, A Social Story Adaptation
Soon, I will go visit Santa Claus.
Sometimes, Santa is at the mall or a store.
Santa gets lots of visitors each day, so I might need to wait in line.
I will try to be patient and wait nicely while the other kids have a turn to take a picture.
When it’s my turn to visit Santa, I can sit on his lap or stand next to him.
Santa might ask what I want for Christmas. I can tell him about the special toy, game, or book.
I will also get to take a picture with Santa. It’s important to look at the camera and smile.
After we take the picture, I can tell Santa, “Thank you!” and the next boy or girl can have a turn with Santa.
I am learning about visiting with Santa and it’s ok to feel scared or upset. I can always ask for help.