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Telling the Truth About St. Nick: How To Tell Kids About Santa

Christmas is a time of joy and happiness but can also be a time of confusion and mystery for kids. One of the biggest questions that children ask during the holiday season is, “How does Santa know what I want?” or “How does he get down the chimney?” 

At some point, parents must address how Santa fits into their family’s holiday traditions and tell the kids the truth behind the legend of St. Nick.

Read on to learn how to tell kids about Santa, so you know what to do when one of your kids asks, “Is Santa real?”

Who Is Santa Claus and How Do You Tell Your Kids the Truth About Him?

Before you go and start talking to your kids or other kids about Santa Claus, you need to know who he is and how he works. 

Santa Claus is a mythical figure that has been around since the mid-1800s. He is believed to be an old man with a white beard and red suit who brings presents to children on Christmas Eve.

In reality, Santa Claus is actually St. Nicholas, a Christian saint who was born in the 4th century AD. St. Nicholas was known for his generosity and kindness to children; this is how the legend of Santa Claus began. Because of St. Nicholas’s good deeds, people began associating Santa Claus with Christmas’s gift-giving.

When it comes to how to tell kids about Santa, parents must consider their child’s age, emotional maturity, and temperament. Some children may be ready to hear the truth – that there is no physical Santa Claus visiting all the homes on Christmas Eve – while others may not comprehend this concept until they’re older. 

Usually, younger siblings take longer to comprehend the Santa conversation than older siblings. For them, finding out that Santa isn’t real might be so upsetting, especially if they realize that other figures, such as the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, are not real, too.

santa claus

With Younger Children

So, with younger children, parents can focus on Christmas’s fun and magical aspects. Talk about how Santa brings presents to those who are good or how he’s a symbol of joy for the holiday season.

You can also talk about how everyone helps make Christmas special by doing kind things for others and having a festive spirit. You can do this in one night and then find a way to keep the magic alive during Christmas. 

Most kids learn best when things are adequately explained to them. Some might never stop believing in Santa Claus, but once a child ages, the true magic of Christmas will be associated with something else instead of the patron saint of sailors, merchants, and others.

With Older Children

For older children, explain how Santa Claus is a tradition that people celebrate during the holiday season. You can talk about how Santa is actually St. Nicholas and how he was generous to those in need. 

Discuss how St. Nicholas’s good deeds of giving have inspired people to give gifts on Christmas day and continue to bring joy to people throughout the year. Telling kids can be challenging, but with the help of other parents, most parents will figure out how to talk to their kids about the truth about Santa.

Honesty and openness are important regardless of how you talk to your children about Santa Claus. Make sure that they understand how the spirit of giving on Christmas is still special even if there isn’t a physical Santa Claus who comes down the chimney on Christmas Eve. 

With this in mind, you should have all the information needed to talk to your kids about how St. Nick’s legend has shaped how we celebrate Christmas today. This way, they will understand how traditions continue and how the spirit of giving can still bring joy even if there isn’t a physical Santa Claus.

Additional Tips on How To Tell Kids About Santa Claus

kid with santa

Aside from introducing the idea of Santa Claus gradually, there are a few other tips parents can use to help ease their children into the reality that Santa isn’t real. 

Follow the tips below for how to tell kids about Santa gently and honestly.

1. Explain how the spirit of giving is more important than gifts from “Santa”

Focusing on how being generous and kind is more important than receiving presents can be an effective way to explain how Santa Claus isn’t real. 

Talk to your children about how giving to others is a beautiful way to make them feel appreciated and how generosity can bring joy to those around them. Once they understand how meaningful giving can be, they will be more accepting of the fact that Santa isn’t real.

2. Use age-appropriate language

Depending on your child’s age, you may need to adjust how you explain the truth about Santa Claus. For younger kids, talk more about how the spirit of giving and kindness is what makes Christmas so special while older kids may be ready to hear a more direct explanation.

3. Talk about how Santa has evolved over the years

Explaining how Santa has evolved from a religious figure to the more modern version of him can help your child understand how different interpretations of Santa have changed over time. Talk about how people celebrate Santa Claus in different ways and how his story may have started with St. Nicholas, who was known for being generous and kind.

4. Celebrate how Santa has made Christmas magical

Discuss how Santa Claus has helped make Christmas a special time of year, even if he isn’t real. Talk about how the spirit of giving and kindness is alive in all of us, no matter what interpretation we have of Santa Claus. Even though he is not real, the work he has done to make Christmas so special and magical will always be remembered.

5. Celebrate how your family celebrates Christmas

Explain how your family chooses to celebrate the holiday season and how you can still incorporate elements of Santa Claus into it. Talk about how you all can focus on being generous and kind while also remembering how magical the holiday season can be.

6. Highlight how the story of Santa is based on real people

Sometimes, it helps to explain how much of the Santa Claus story was inspired by stories from centuries ago about St. Nicholas, a real person who was known for his generosity and kindness.

Reassuring your child that many of the stories about Santa are based on real people can help them understand how he is still unique even if he isn’t real.

Be sure to adjust how you explain the truth about Santa based on how old your child is and how they respond to the news. 

Above all, it’s important to emphasize how the spirit of giving is what makes Christmas so magical, even if some parts of the story of Santa Claus aren’t real. The holiday season can still be a magical time of year, even without Santa!

What Should I Do if My Child Becomes Upset Over the Fact That Santa Isn’t Real?

santa leaving gifts

It’s expected that some children may become upset when they discover the truth about Santa. The key is handling it in a way that validates how they feel and encourages them to understand how special the holiday season can still be without believing in magical stories.

Start by talking with your child about how understanding this fact doesn’t take away from how special the holiday season is. Use this as an opportunity to explain how families and traditions are still important, even if the magical stories aren’t true.

It’s also helpful to discuss how gifts don’t have to be from a fictional character to be special or appreciated. Talk about how family members express love by giving gifts and how it can still feel special.

Lastly, if your child is still having difficulty understanding how the holiday season can remain magical without believing in a fantasy, try to come up with creative activities together that will make the holidays even more special for them.

This could include baking cookies for friends and family, watching holiday movies, or visiting local attractions.

No matter how you handle this situation, remember to stay calm and be supportive of how your child feels. It’s important to respect the emotions they are experiencing so that they can more effectively process their thoughts during this transition.

By keeping open communication with your child and finding new ways to make the holiday season memorable, you can help them learn how to cope with this new understanding and still find joy in the holiday season.

Other Ways To Make Christmas Special Even Without Santa Claus

santa near chimney

Now that you have already had the talk with your kids, how else can you make Christmas merry and bright without Santa Claus? Here are a few ideas:

1. Focus on the Meaning of Christmas

One way to keep the holiday fun and meaningful is by focusing on the true meaning of Christmas: celebrating Jesus’ birth. You can still have traditions, like attending church services together or reading the Christmas story before opening presents.

2. Celebrate Family Traditions

Another way to keep Christmas special is by celebrating family traditions, like baking cookies together or taking a holiday photo as a keepsake. This helps kids feel connected to their families and have something to look forward to each year.

3. Make Room for Magic

You don’t have to dismiss the idea of Santa for your kids totally. You can still make room for a bit of magic, even without believing in a jolly old man in a red suit. For example, you could suggest that Christmas is about how people show love and kindness to each other.

4. Give Meaningful Gifts

Rather than focusing on how many presents your kids receive, concentrate on the quality of each gift. Give them something meaningful that can be treasured for years to come. This could be anything from a homemade item to an experience like tickets to a show or a special outing.

5. Have Fun

Finally, remember to have fun and ensure your children enjoy their holiday. There is no right or wrong way to celebrate Christmas, so don’t feel pressured to do things a certain way. Instead, enjoy the time together and make lasting memories that you can remember each year.

Don’t compromise on the joy of Christmas! Even without Santa Claus, you can still have a wonderful holiday season with your family. With these tips, you can ensure that every December is merry and bright!


Santa Claus is a part of many children’s childhoods, and how parents tell the truth about Santa to their kids should be carefully handled.

Respect your child’s feelings, answer any questions they have, and explain how special the spirit of giving is that comes along with the holiday season. 

With thoughtful conversations, you can help make the transition from believing in Santa to understanding how Santa was inspired by St. Nicholas, a positive experience for your child.

Once the truth is told, you’ll still be able to create some magical moments around Christmas time with activities like decorating cookies, writing letters to friends and family, or making wishes on stars!

Enjoy these special family memories and continue to make them every year as your kids grow up.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I tell my 12-year-old about Santa?

The answer to this question depends on how your child feels about Santa. Some children may already have suspicions that there’s no such thing as Santa and may be ready to accept the truth. Other children may still believe in him, and telling them at the age of 12 could lead to feelings of betrayal. It’s up to you to decide how best to approach this situation.

How do I break the news to younger children?

Be gentle and kind when it comes time to tell your kids about Santa. Explain that while believing in Santa can be a lot of fun, as we get older, we realize he isn’t real. Explain how parents have a special role all along and how Santa has been a way of showing how much they care.

How do I handle their feelings?

When telling your kids about Santa, it’s important to allow them to express their emotions, whether that’s a disappointment, sadness, or anger. Be there to listen and provide reassurance that you still love them, no matter how they feel. Encourage them to talk through their feelings and explain how this change doesn’t mean the end of Christmas magic.

What if I want to keep the Santa idea alive?

If you don’t want to break the news about Santa yet, there are ways to keep his spirit alive. One option is to focus on how Santa can represent the spirit of giving and how your family can make a difference by giving back to others during the holidays. You can also focus on how Santa symbolizes hope, joy, and love.

What is the average age to tell a child about Santa?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Ultimately, it’s up to you how you decide to approach the subject of Santa with your children. Some parents choose to tell their kids when they are between 8 and 10 years old, while others wait until their child is a bit older. It really depends on how comfortable you are with your decision and how your child is reacting to the situation.

Regardless of how you approach the conversation, be sure to do it in a way that respects and honors your child’s feelings. Be patient and understanding, as this can be a difficult subject for some children. Above all else, make sure to be honest and reassuring. Whether you decide to keep Santa alive or reveal the truth, your child’s feelings should always come first. This is how to tell kids about Santa the right way.

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