When your child stops believing in Santa 2 It never even occurred to me the realisation that Santa isn’t real might actually be quite devastating to a child.  Until this morning that is, when a huge force of the mummy guilts knocked the wind out of me!

Normally cool as a cucumber and always the dude, I often forget that Master J (who turned 8 in October) can be quite sensitive at times.

We’ve been butting heads a bit recently as the Christmas festivities have swung into action. His lack of enthusiasm to take part in anything has been frustrating me no end.  The girls are bouncing off the walls with excitement and his half hearted effort to even look excited has been all too obvious.  His blatant refusal to write his Christmas wish list for Santa (which he’s done every other year) should have been a clear sign to me that something was up.   However, I’ve been so fed up with his cranky behaviour and terrified that he’d say something to undo the girls enthusiasm (out of spite) that it didn’t even occur to me that something might be wrong.

Yesterday a quick trip to the shops after school turned into an epic nightmare!  Firstly we lost Miss L, along with ten years of my life, but thats a whole other story.  Secondly I had to endure a good half hour of weeping and wailing from Master J because I wouldn’t buy him what he wanted.   “PLEEEEAAAASE mum” He begged.  “No! it’s less than 3 weeks until Christmas, put it on your Santa list” I told him.  Cue, even bigger meltdown!!  “NO! there’s no point, he’ll never know which one I want and he’ll never bring it.” he wailed from the back of the car.  “Of course he won’t if you don’t tell him” I replied.  Even Miss H piped in to tell him that she had written and posted her letter (which really didn’t help the situation).

His behaviour in general was so revolting that I put it down to ‘end of term-isit’ and tiredness and made sure he had an early night.

He woke up this morning and was still sad, still going on about the things I had refused to buy and still refusing to write to Santa list.  My patience levels were dropping rapidly (whilst trying to get everyone ready for school) and by the time I dropped them all off, he still looked so sad.  I felt awful, a big lump sat at pit of my stomach as I thought of his sad little face.  This is supposed to be such a happy time of year.

The fist thing I did when I got home was google “How old do children stop believing in Santa?”  Well guess what?  The average age seems to be 8.  How did I not realise??  I sat with a cup of tea and thought over every little thing he’s said and done since the start of this ‘festive season’ and the penny finally dropped.  How did I not see if before??  The poor kid has obviously put two and two together and come up with five.  He must be so confused.  Is Santa real or not??  His friends and his gut are telling him NO and his mum is telling him YES.  It also must be so disappointing to realise that the whole magic of Santa and Christmas is not what you always thought it was.  Everything is suddenly new and confusing!!

I feel terrible.  I wanted to drive straight back to school, pull him out of the classroom and give him a big hug.

Now my next job is to make it all better.  I need to tell him the truth but at the same time keep the magic of Christmas alive.  How do I do that??

If anyone one has been through this before, please tell how you dealt with it – all suggestions welcome!

Thank you lovely readers

Mrs d signature4

25 comments on “What to do when your child stops believing in Santa”

  1. Oh lovely! This parenting bizzo never gets any easier does it?
    I have no idea how to handle it, but I have found that asking my kids what they think is a good way to handle tricky situations (like where to babies come from etc)
    Good luck! xx

    • Just when you think you’re on a home straight a curve ball comes out of nowhere!! Good idea to ask him first – it’ll give me grounds to start xx

  2. Robyn, welcome to the club, my older two are there and have been for quite a few years now. I just asked them the question “what do you think about Santa?” They has already come to the conclusion themselves and I didn’t have to tell them anything. I wrote a post on this exact topic a little while ago, I won’t post the link, but it’s there if you wanted to have a read..

  3. I don’t have any suggestions as I hope to not have to deal with this for at least 10 years (although it will be more like 6-8 I think) but I do remember how it felt when I realised that Santa wasn’t real. I actually pretended for a whole other year because I was worried that if I told Mum I didn’t believe in Santa then I wouldn’t get a Santa gift that year. I shouldn’t have worried though, because I’m now 32 and still get a Santa gift! Lol!

    Good luck with the talk and helping J feel better about it all. Lots of hugs and reassurances that he will still get a present might help too xx

    • Thanks Kylie, I was wracking my brain trying to remember when I found out too. It’s kinda comforting that I can’t remember as I obviously wasn’t scarred by it too much! I think you’re so right – he’s terrified he won’t get a gift, thanks xx

  4. Aww it’s tricky, we still had believer’s up until their teen’s and a 9, 11 & 3 year old who are eagerly awaiting Santa’s arrival this year. Mr 14 and Miss 13 wrote very serious Santa letters complete with return addresses and when asked last year if I believed in Santa I told them I do. I think it is about keeping the magic alive moreso than confirming their fears.. 8 seems so little.. if it were me I would be doing something to help him believe again..

    • Wow, that’s so great that you’ve managed to keep it going for them for so long. I must admit, this has totally taken me by surprise, I thought I had at least another year or two. I think we are going to keep up the magic – I just can’t bring myself to tell him that Santa isn’t real just yet x

  5. my eldest son (13) asked me only two nights ago if Santa was real. His younger brother (10) still believes and doesn’t understand why some of his friends don’t. So I told him the truth and he was ok, especially when I told him that once a child knows the truth he then joins everyone else who has the very special responsibility of keeping the magic of Christmas alive for all the younger children – for the rest of his life. He quite liked that – sort of like another stage of growing up.

    • I think this is a fabulous way of doing it! My sister is 6 years younger than I am and I think about 9 or 10 I stopped believing (had suspicions at 8 but we were making such a HUGE deal for my sister I didn’t have time to think too much about it!) – as soon as I asked my mother she told me the truth and that it was really important to keep the magic alive not just for my sister, but because Xmas was magical – even if it was us and not Santa that we’re creating the magic!

      • Daisy, I couldn’t agree more. It’s so reassuring hearing this. I think I am going to ask him what he think and make him feel special about keeping the magic alive. I’m don’t think I could give up on Santa just yet!! x

  6. We made the choice not to do Santa or the Easter Bunny in our house. My kids are quite content with the way we have dealt with this and we have made sure they have not missed out on all the things that go with these events. They have a Christmas stocking. They get Easter eggs galore. We explain it differently to the way others might, but they still participate in all the things that make those occasions special and important.

    I don’t know how I would go about that post-Santa-belief talk, but it can be a great teachable moment. Think about what truth or value you want your son to come away with and target your discussion to demonstrate that. Growing up is hard. It means becoming more mature and taking on new responsibilities. It means crossing from childhood to the road towards adulthood. Sometimes it’s no fun to grow up, but then as adults we get to create memories and traditions for our children to enjoy. As adults, we get to decide what’s important to us to pass on.

    • I love how every family has a different way of doing things Tray. It’s so important to do what feels right in your own family – and as long as the kids are happy, then it’s right.

      The whole growing up process is so challenging some times, for both the kids and us as parents. The rewarding moments are oh so worth it though xx

  7. Aww Robyn, I have no idea how to deal with this and I’m reading the comments to get some ideas on how to handle this when my girls are older. I’m at the other spectrum getting kids to be e cited about Christmas. Good on you for working out the problem. I hope you are able to reassure him about Christmas being a wonderful time of year even if Santa isn’t real. Xx

    • Thanks Bec – they seem to be growing up so quickly!! Enjoy that little Phoebe (and the others) because in a blink they’ll be at school! xx

  8. You know, when your kids are growing up you swear you will always remember important milestones and things like this … but I really find it hard! I honestly don’t remember when my kids realised about Santa. I know when they first asked questions I turned it around on them and asked, “Well what do YOU think” and they were happy to continue believing at that point. Usually by the next year the game was up though!

    Visiting today from #teamIBOT xxx

    • It’s so true Janet – unless we write them down, lol. I was wracking my brain trying to remember how I found out about Santa and I just can’t remember at all!! x

  9. Oh no! I feel sorry for him. I don’t have any kids yet, so unfortunately can’t give you any advice. I can’t even remember how I handled it. Personally, I don’t like that we’re making our children believe in something so magical and then have to tell them it was all a lie. I hope you were able to talk to him and work it all out. xxx

  10. Wonderfully terrifying post! I’m currently attempting to explain to my two year old who Santa is, and you’re telling me that I’ve only got six years before he stops believing?

    It’s not long enough!

    Good luck talking to your son. I want to know how it all works out. Give us your inside tips!

  11. Oh I feel terrible for you and your boy. I offer no help I’m sorry, my kids are only 4 & 1yrs. I hope you write another post to tell us how you went. Maybe he can have one extra special pressie this year 🙂 x

  12. I’m sorry I don’t have any advice to offer, I hope it is many years before I am faced with this situation! I do remember when I was 12 though, and asking Mum is Santa was real. She asked me what I thought and I told her that I didn’t think so. And she said I was probably right, but it didn’t matter because Santa would still visit and leave me presents too. I had actually been suspicious the year before but was afraid to say anything because I thought if I didn’t believe then I Santa wouldn’t bring me anything and I would miss out on presents.

  13. My oldest is 11 and I’m sure he doesn’t know yet …. I am just waiting for the day!!! But I stick with if you don’t believe you won’t receive! Good luck! It’s keeping it a secret for the younger ones that counts! 🎄🎄

  14. I was devastated when I found out that the magic wasn’t true.
    I decided from a young age that in my own family the magic of Christmas would prevail……
    Keep all the traditions going around Christmas….. I say, if you don’t believe , you don’t receive…… make the stocking smaller and put more practical things in it.
    I’ve got ages 17,19 and 21 and their stockings are now filled with gift cards, shampoos, all the things that they typically buy themselves.
    It’s not toys anymore but still fun and kind of magical still. When they say thanks, I just wink and say …. tell Santa. They groan but it’s how I keep it alive untill there are grand kids.

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