02 Dec Taking Santa Pictures? Help Your Scared Child with 4 Simple Steps
Santa Pictures are Often More Fun for Parents than a Scared Child
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.
Jean is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who earned her Master of Social Work from Rhode Island College in 2008. She also has a Bachelor of Science from Roger Williams University. Since 2004, Jean has been working with children, adolescents, young adults and families in a variety of settings, from residential to community mental health centers. Most recently she has spent the past five years working in K-12 schools.
She has specialized training with anxiety, mood disorders, social and behavioral issues, trauma, body image/eating disorders, and academic and classroom supports. Jean believes in utilizing a blend of therapeutic approaches based on her clients’ needs. She often utilizes cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and play (developmentally young) therapy. She aims to provide an open and holistic forum to work through life’s challenges. Jean understands that therapy can be overwhelming, but she has been told that her calm demeanor and warmth quickly engages clients and puts them at ease. During the therapeutic process she helps empower families by offering strategies on how to improve communication, gain healthy coping skills, and navigate the educational system. As an active person, Jean also certified as a Childlight Yoga instructor, who understands the importance of the mind-body connection.
Jean also works closely with school personnel to provide emotional and behavioral support and accommodation suggestions and strategies. Jean also enjoys presenting on social-emotional learning in educational settings, anxiety and depression in youth, and self-care for young professionals. Jean likes to spend her free time with family and friends, sailing, running, and attending cultural events in the city.