Breaking the News About Santa Claus

Updated on August 30, 2019
G.T. asks from Canton, MA
14 answers

My 11 year old is going into 6th grade and she believes in Santa. She just gave me her Christmas list. I am lucky that we got away with it for so long!
But I am afraid it is time to let her know - especially before the kids at school start to tease her.
I would love some advice on how to do this.
I remember how sad I was to this day....
I am looking for advice - not to be judged. TIA.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Do you really think that you need to? I never did. I'm very confident that my teen no longer believes. But he still gives me a Christmas list and enjoys the magic of the holiday.

4 moms found this helpful

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answers from Portland on

I just read back and saw your previous question. One of my kids is a bit young for her age (another one of mine was also).

However, remember, at this age, it doesn't mean they necessarily 'believe' in Santa. Mine still do lists (my teens) because they always have. She may just know what she wants.

One of mine went shopping with me not long ago, and started one for example.

Some kids don't want to upset mom/dad by 'not believing' for example. They don't know how to break it to their parents - they feel they kind of have to keep believing, for their parents' sake. I know, seems odd, but they want to keep the magic alive .. the tradition or aren't sure how to not play along.

One of mine did this with the Easter Bunny for a long time, and we all were like Umm... and then later on were told, Well of course I didn't believe....

I found by 4th grade they start having doubts (hearing about it at school). Some earlier. By fifth - even the most strong believers are really starting to hear about it from close friends. By 6th grade, they pretty much know. Even the ones you really think might still believe - they don't. My firm believers, even my young at heart/innocent ones, didn't any more.

So you may find that your daughter doesn't. Or won't by Christmas. It may not be an issue.

No one should judge you on this. It's quite nice having young at heart/innocent kiddos. Trust me. I have both. The ones who take their time growing up get to enjoy childhood a little longer - nothing wrong with that :) they only get one childhood after all. And all it takes is one kid saying one little thing, and kids clam up at this age. I doubt she'll start defending her position.

With my child, she said the Elf On Shelf did something, and someone pointed out they couldn't possibly, and that did it. It happens to all kids, about something. So it will be ok.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

She probably already knows and just likes to play along.
We never had to break any such news to our son.
He'll be 21 his next birthday, he's a junior in college and his dorm does a secret Santa exchange around the holidays.
Belief and facts have little to do with each other and your daughters beliefs are as valid as the next persons.
I wouldn't bring it up unless she wants to talk about it.

There are 4 stages of Santa Claus.
You believe in Santa Claus.
You don't believe in Santa Claus.
You become Santa Claus.
You look like Santa Claus.
(Or in my case I look like Mrs Claus.)

6 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Of course she already "knows" the truth, she just likes the fantasy. There's no need to say anything. Just enjoy the traditions as long as they last!
And I'm pretty sure she's not talking about Santa at school, unless she has some kind of developmental delay or something? In that case maybe talking to her would be good, just to reinforce what's real and what's make believe.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

My kids were not sad at all about it and I think it was because of the way I explained it. One day they just asked point blank if Santa was a real person and I was honest, I said no he is not, he is a representation of the magic, love, and joy of the season.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on


Stop over thinking this.

I'm in my 50's and I still believe...and it's the belief that there is still good in the world. Please don't take this away from her - let her have her belief. It's OKAY.

Why would the kids at school tease her? She can believe what she wants to believe. She's not hurting anyone with her belief.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Like others said she probably already knows. I don't know when my boys stopped believing. When they were a little older and we talked about it they said they knew for a while but were afraid that if they let us know they wouldn't get anything. They are now 20 and 17 and we still put out stockings for them. I would not worry about telling her.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

Maybe she already knows the truth and is playing along? I know I did, when I discovered my parents wrapping gifts after midnight. My daughter lost a tooth the other day and asked if the tooth fairy would give her anything. I said sure, she always does, and she asked how much she'd get. I asked how much she thought she should get, and she said, "You can just give me $5. I know you're the "tooth fairy" and that was that.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

I pretended to believe in Santa for years. I knew it made my parents happy and it was fun to go along with it. I was a your daughter a people-pleaser? I also did it in order to get presents from Santa! I'm guessing she already knows. The kids talk about Santa not being real at school starting around age 7 and it's hard to believe she has not heard things in school. Anyway, one day I heard my mom bragging to someone about how her kids still believed in Santa and suddenly I felt like a sucker and stopped pretending. I think you don't really need to have a conversation with her...after all my mom at age 75 still gives my brother and I a gift from "Santa" at Christmastime. ;)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

i would start by not treating this as if it's a huge deal. your childhood sadness will not necessarily be hers.

be calm and matter-of-fact. don't build it up as some huge terrible giant reveal that's going to wreck her childhood.

'honey, santa is a big part of our christmas, and you've always known that we help him with finding just the right presents and getting them to you. well, the fact is that it's kind of the other way around. santa helps US get your presents by inspiring us and helping us with the christmas spirit. we love him and believe in him, but as a wonderful myth and archetype, the spirit of the season. it's time for you to know that there's no actual sleigh and reindeer and workshop in the north pole. but isn't it a fun story?'

chances are that she isn't actually totally clueless about it, and might be a little bummed but not devastated.

if you're not going to huge lengths to cushion the fall, you'll probably realize that she's tougher than you expect.


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Indianapolis on

She probably knows. I knew at 9 but still talked about Santa because I thought that if my parents knew that I didn't believe I wouldn't get presents. My daughter did the same thing. I asked her when she was 11 if she really believed in Santa and she started laughing and told me she hadn't believed since 3rd grade. She thought it would hurt my feelings if I knew she didn't believe. Asking if she believes depends on your relationship and how open you and she are to talking about different things. With my daughter's and my relationship I did ask point blank "do you really believe in Santa Clause". I don't think it will be that traumatic. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

I don’t have any advice, but I’m in the same boat. I have an 11 year old son entering 6th grade who still believes. I’ve read all the comments below, most of which say they probably don’t really believe any more, etc., but my son truly does. He’s not pretending.

He knows about the “Santa’s helpers” in the malls and will make comments about those not being the “real” Santa. He’ll make comments about Santa or the Elves being able to “make anything”. He’s commented about asking Santa for things that he knows are too expensive since Santa doesn’t have to buy them.

I am sure kids at school talk about Santa not being real at this point. I’m just afraid he will be embarrassed if I don’t tell him.

Growing up I figured it out pretty young but my older brother had to be told. He was an all-in believer into 5th grade and our school had an assignment where the 2nd graders wrote letters to Santa and the 5th graders had to answer them (as Santa). My mom had to tell him before he found out from a school assignment!



answers from Los Angeles on

I'm sure that in some way, your daughter suspects Santa's not real. I had to be "told" in the 5th grade, but by then, I had a feeling it wasn't real. When my mom told me, I wasn't shocked. It was something I suspected, but wasn't 100% sure until my mom confirmed it.



answers from Denver on

We told our kids the story of the original Saint Nicholas. He was a Bishop in what is now the country of Turkey. You can read the Wikipedia article on him by looking up his name, but if you are interested, there are many articles and books that talk about this remarkable man.

Basically, he was wealthy, and he was generous. There are legends about his generosity and his rescuing many families from famine, poverty, crime, etc. But there is truth to his story as well.

So when our kids were young, we taught them that Santa Claus is a reminder to us about the real St. Nicholas. They were old enough to realize that there were multiple Santas in malls and on street corners and they obviously all weren't the same person. So we told them that every time they saw a Santa, to ask themselves if they had been kind to someone, and had shared something with someone (a kind word, a helping hand, a toy, a gift). And we told them that some Christmas gifts were from Grandma, or Aunt Millie (we weren't going to deprive them of the joy of giving a gift to our kids and of receiving a thank you note). Some gifts were from mom and dad. And every single gift, large or small, was a reminder that someone loved them very much.

It helped our kids to realize that St. Nicholas was a real person, and that his influence can still be felt, and that the values he believed are still very much needed in this world. It's just like Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., past Popes, and other people who really lived but who have passed on. Their images are seen in many places - statues, stamps, holiday commemorations - and the fact that they have passed on doesn't make them any less real or the values they stood for any less significant, and the images remind us of the lessons they left for us. The Santas in the stores and on the streets can be thought of as images, in a way, of the original Saint.

Your daughter might take comfort in knowing that Santa Claus is a tribute to a very real and very kind person. She probably realizes that there aren't flying reindeer. The children in the Netherlands know that there isn't a Zwarte Piet, the children of Italy know that there's no Bella Befana, just as other children in nearly every country know that there's no flying goats or trolls (look up Santa Claus traditions around the world online), but it's fun to leave the cookies or the coins or the candy or the carrots and wait for the morning to see what was left in their shoes or by their beds. It's ok to have the fun part of the holiday, but it's wonderful to learn about the invaluable lessons of kindness and generosity and sharing. Some children appreciate knowing that Santa Claus, once they learn that no jolly guy in a red suit is going to actually pop down their chimney, is meant to be a reminder of someone that really and truly lived and is worth remembering. It can make the transition easier.

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