Skip to content

6 Ways to Keep the Kids Believing in Christmas

December 12, 2013


My son and daughter watching Santa arrive at our town's annual Christmas Walk

My son and daughter watching Santa arrive at our town’s annual Christmas Walk

There’s a rumor going around that some of the kids in my son’s 4th grade class are mouthing off that there is no Santa Claus.  Now, I know some of these kids are older than my very young 9-year-old who won’t turn 10 until this summer.  I know that this is the normal age that kids stop believing.  But I am not ready for this milestone.  Especially because he is my oldest and I really don’t want Christmas to be ruined for his two younger siblings.

I still remember the day I stopped believing.  I was 11 years old.  A naive, innocent, sixth grader.  I was sitting at a lunch table with my friends when one of them casually said, “You know Santa’s not real, right?”

Not wanting to seem stupid or uncool, I nodded and said, “Oh yeah, of course,” between bites of my sandwich.  I slowly chewed whatever it was I was eating, not wanting to swallow any food anymore.  On the outside, I was calm and unworried.  But on the inside, I was crushed.  I felt like someone was squeezing my heart and ripping it out of my chest.  I felt stupid; I felt sad.  I felt like someone I loved had died, but I couldn’t show it.  I felt like crying, but didn’t want my friends to think I was a baby.  That 11-year-old memory is so clear that I still feel as heartbroken now, telling the story, as I did then.

My son hasn’t shown any signs of not believing yet.  But I see him watching closely, taking it all in.  He is very much like me in that regard.  Even after that fateful lunch period, I still didn’t go home and tell my parents what I had learned.  I kept it all inside, until I came to terms with it on my own.  I have a feeling that’s how he will handle it, too.  I just hope he believes a little while longer.

Here’s the thing about not believing in Santa and all of the magic of Christmas.  It turns kids from innocents with pure hearts into skeptics.  It transforms them into doubters and makes them question everything in life.  Of course, this would naturally happen anyway, as it’s part of growing up, but what’s the harm in holding off that unpleasant inevitability for another year or two?

So parents, this is what I ask of you.

PLEASE do not rush this discovery.

PLEASE allow them to stay little, for just a little while longer.

Follow these ideas for helping the kids continue to believe.  And, if your child is one who has stopped believing, PLEASE sit them down and tell them NOT to talk to other kids about it.  Your little smarty-pants just might be crushing a classmate from the inside out.

How to Keep the Kids Believing in Christmas:

1.  The Elf on the Shelf — Either do the elf or don’t.  But be sure you’re willing to take on the responsibility. You don’t have to get crazy, but try not to follow some cookie-cutter identical schedule followed by every household either!  And, as with Santa, if your kid doesn’t have an elf, or doesn’t believe, sit them down for a talk about keeping quiet on the subject.

2.  Elfie Joe's potpourri Christmas treeThe Elf Stands Alone, Part 1 —  Please stop sharing pics of your kids hugging your elf.  If my kids see them, they’ll wonder why all elves don’t follow the same rules and will begin to doubt.

3.  Be Tight With Santa — Santa cooperates with parents.  Explain that we tell Santa what we get you to avoid duplicates.  Sometimes Mommy forgets who got what for whom.  We cooperate.  We work together.  Yes, some of what was on Mommy’s Amazon wish list was actually delivered by Santa, not by the post office.

4.  The Elf Stands Alone, Part 2.  Regular toys don’t come to life during the year.  The elf is the only one who moves, hides and plays tricks.  No leprechauns, no birthday fairies, and no mischievous dinosaurs.  Keep the elf special and unique by not doing the exact same thing all year long.

5. Take the credit.  It’s okay to get credit for doing things as parents.  If you want to see that look of awe and magical wonder on your kids’ faces, surprise them as much as you want!  But it’s okay to admit that you, the parents, have done this wonderful thing for them.  Let them experience that amazing special feeling that they are so important to their family, that their parents would do something magical for them.  Santa doesn’t need all of the credit.  He’s very good about sharing.

6.  Watch the movies.  Explain questions as they arise, but keep quiet if they don’t.  And, for the love of God, don’t turn it off halfway through because you’re afraid that the movie may make them question their belief.  Every Christmas movie has a happy ending.  The kids need to see that to know that the doubt gets resolved!

Please help keep kids just a little sweeter and more innocent for just a little while longer.  Talk to older kids about the importance of keeping quiet around their friends and siblings.  And encourage the younger kids to believe.  We all could use a little more Christmas magic.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. luly1234 permalink
    December 12, 2013 2:05 PM

    I was a bit relieved when my oldest found out, maybe because I still had 3 more kids to have fun with! He is great about “helping” and no one else knows, including his now 5th grade brother. I am a believer in no one starting middle school (6th grade for us) without knowing, so we’ve been telling him he has to start hinting after this Christmas to his brother!

    • December 12, 2013 2:11 PM

      Oh wow! I love that he still believes in 5th grade. Our school goes K-6, so I like your rule! Now I just hope mine can make it at least 2 more Christmases!

  2. Sarah permalink
    December 3, 2014 12:33 AM

    So, we have to purchase an Elf on the Shelf now so that our kids won’t ruin SANTA for your kids? How about we stick to the initial myth and stop adding things? You, Elf Followers, have changed the rules, not us classic Santa parents.

    • December 3, 2014 6:45 AM

      Absolutely not, Sarah. First, these are simple suggestions. Like I put forth in #1, do the elf, or don’t. I sometimes wish I had never been given the elf to do in our house because it does take commitment. (and I cringe at the mere thought of the elf spreading sugar or flour or toys all over the place for me to clean up! Our elf would be unstuffed in a heartbeat!) So if you choose to not do the elf, that’s great. This post only offers three tips for non-elf followers, though, so I’d love to hear more ideas on how you keep the magic alive for classic Santa. 🙂

  3. Kelsey Howell permalink
    December 17, 2017 3:16 PM

    I am so glad I read this. I couldn’t agree more, they have most of their lives to be disappointed and the day you find out magic doesn’t exist is the day the world is a little less bright. It was so heart breaking to me and I’m glad others out there agree. My ex husband told my now 9 year old (she was 3 when he told her) that none of it is real so I’ve had to work double time to keep her believing. I just can’t understand why anyone would ever want to take that from a sweet child. So thank you for this. ❤


  1. Twelve Ways to Save Your Butt When Your Elf on the Shelf Forgets to Move | From Grind to Whine

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: