Taking the stress out of Santa photos
Christmas can be both an exciting and a stressful time for families with expectations around getting involved in the celebrations and rituals.
One of those is the annual photo with Santa. Proud grandparents, demands from other family members, and peer pressure all can add to the stress of organising your child to have their photo taken with Santa.
Northcott’s Senior Behaviour Practitioner Penny Sydenham is very experienced in managing potentially stressful situations and gives her tips on navigating the Santa photo.
The first steps are setting the scene and making Santa more familiar:
Tip 1: Positive, positive, positive…
The main aim is to create familiarity and positivity in preparing for the experience. Before you venture out to take the photo, try out some positive statements like “Santa would love to hear what you would like for Christmas” or “Santa loves meeting all of the kids on his nice list”. Definitely avoid saying things like “Santa won’t come if you don’t have your photo taken with him.”
Tip 2: Familiarise your child with Santa
A great way to do this is through reading books about Christmas that show pictures of Santa. Good ones to consider are: The Night Before Christmas, That’s Not My Santa, The 12 Aussie Days of Christmas.
Tip 3: Santa photos are part of our family tradition
Show Santa photos from previous years with your child’s siblings, or even photos from when you were young.
Tip 4: Scout the location
It’s a good idea to visit the shopping centre before you go for a Santa photo or even just wave at the centre as you walk or drive past.
The day of taking the photo also benefits from some preparation:
Tip 5: Being comfortable helps relaxation
Allowing your child to take their favourite toy and wear comfortable, favourite clothes helps them to relax. Similarly, they don’t have to sit on Santa’s lap. They could sit with you near Santa.
Tip 6: Timing is everything
Busy shopping centres full of eager children pushing to get their Santa photo taken can be stressful and distracting. Think about going when the shops are less busy. Some centres now have special sensitive time slots (often called Sensory Santa Sessions) – or allow you to book a specific time. You could also scout out smaller centres or a stand-alone store where it is not as busy. A final tip on timing is to make the photo just part of a sequence of positive things: First we’ll take the Santa photo and then we can go for a milkshake.”
Tip 7: It doesn’t have to be a classic Santa photo
If you think it is all too much, there are many alternatives that would do just as well. You could take a photo yourself next to a Santa statue, holding a Santa toy or next to a Christmas display in a shop window. There are also apps (such as Take a Picture with Santa, or many others) where you can insert a photo of your child/family in with Santa in his workshop or on a sleigh, or even in your home.
Tip 8: It’s just a Santa photo
And the final tip is that if it is all too overwhelming or your child has a meltdown before the photo is taken, it doesn’t matter. Christmas can be stressful in lots of ways, don’t create more stress for yourself in forcing a Santa photo.