This might come as a shock to your kids so be careful where you read this: There is no such thing as magic. Santa Claus is not real. Reindeer do not fly. Christmas presents don’t come from the North Pole and are not made by the Keebler elves, or their distant cousins.
Most kids come to these realities all by themselves sometime between 10 and 12 years of age. There is usually not too much drama when this happens. They have suspected something was odd with the stories about Christmas. And they are ready to shrug it off and move on. It can be rather more problematic when it happens at an earlier age.
Part of the problem with losing the magic too soon is that parents have no idea what to do or how to react when it happens. They are trapped by the following:
- The child still wants to believe
- The parent is not ready to let it go
- Society conspires to keep the magic alive for young ones
- Parents fear the loss of innocence if magic fades
- Parents don’t know what to replace the fantasy with
To that last point, one of the most powerful things a parent can do for a child who is ready to let go of magical thinking is to give them an early start on navigating the real world while maintaining the joy and wonder of life’s possibilities. Here are some practical ways to make that happen:
Teach Them the Value of Good Health
Let them know that sweet treats like candy and cake are great for special occasions like birthdays and holidays. Give them an appreciation for healthy eating choices. Help them connect with food that gives them energy to play and that sharpens their mind for thinking and creativity.
When you are searching for gyms in San Diego for yourself, explain to her why it is important to exercise and stay fit. Little kids don’t know what health is. They only know what a loss of health is. It is up to you to teach them about the value of good health. They are never too young for that.
Maintain the Fun and Creativity of the Traditions
Children do not have to believe in the magic of Christmas to appreciate the joy of the holiday any more than you do. You can help them trade the Santa stress for something healthier like learning to make Christmas ornaments and decorations. You can teach her holiday carols from different parts of the world and different traditions.
Teach her about the real Santa Claus. It is actually a tradition transplanted from the Netherlands. It is a much more interesting story than the ones we like to tell. You will also find that many places around the world have their own holiday tradition. It is healthy for young children to be exposed to these traditions because they will encounter kids in school who approach the holidays quite differently. A child that is ready to shed the magic a little early will be in an excellent position to embrace diversity.
Pass on the Spirit of Giving
If you want your kids to maintain the spirit of Christmas, pass on the spirit of giving and show them what real magic looks like. Bring them with you to orphanages and senior centers and other places where you routinely bring gifts. Show them the faces that light up when they receive a small token of recognition and generosity. Your kids will quickly become addicted to doing good things for other people. It will forever change them for the good.
There are many occasions to practice good works during this time of pandemic. Seniors need meal deliveries and grocery pickups. Older relatives might be feeling isolated and need outreach. That can come in the form of video chats. Those checkins can make all the difference.
Don’t despair if your clever kids outgrow Santa a little faster than you want them to. Rather, help them trade fantasy magic for the real magic of good health habits that will last a lifetime, holiday traditions that will broaden their horizons, and the spirit of giving which is the point of the magic in the first place.