Toddler Is Afraid of Santa

Jan Faull, MEd, talks about a toddler who is afraid of Santa.
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A Common Fear


Q. My 3-year-old has a fear that's getting worse. It started out as a simple fear of Santa but now she is not only terrified of Santa, but anyone who looks remotely Santa-like. Plus, she runs away from the TV every time she sees a Christmas-related advertisement and screams at snowmen, reindeer, and even presents wrapped in holiday paper.

I've told myself she'll grow out of it, but I'd never forgive myself if there was something here that needed to be dealt with, and I ignored it, hoping it would go away. Any suggestions?

A. Most young children are afraid of Santa. He's a character dressing and looking much differently than anyone they've experienced. Then to be forced to sit on this strange person's lap, quickly turns most toddlers and some preschoolers fearful as they prepare for fight or flight. Unfortunately your child has now generalized her fear of Santa to most things Christmas-ish. At this point, making a therapy appointment probably isn't necessary even though her fear of snowmen, reindeer and Christmas presents seems a bit extreme.

How you respond when she screams with terror to anything Christmas related is key to her overcoming her fears. Realize that her fears won't completely subside this year, next year they will subside somewhat and then most likely completely disappear the Christmas she's five-years-old.

What follows are several approaches you can take to help your daughter overcome her fears.

Continued on page 2:  Tips for Calming Santa Fears

 

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