‘Santa anxiety’: Children worry about Old St. Nick getting COVID-19

Click to play video: 'Kids dealing with ‘Santa anxiety?’ Here’s how to step in'
Kids dealing with ‘Santa anxiety?’ Here’s how to step in
Parenting expert Alyson Schafer joins The Morning Show with tips on how to explain changes to Christmas celebrations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. – Nov 30, 2020

While it may be difficult for children to understand the changes to holiday traditions this year, one expert says there are practical and creative ways to come up with new alternatives. 

Parenting expert Alyson Schafer recently joined The Morning Show with tips on how to speak with your kids about celebrating holidays in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Schafer says some younger children may feel “Santa anxiety,” a fear that Jolly Old St. Nicholas may possibly catch the virus.

“Some kids are very worried that Santa is going to be in all these other houses and coming into theirs, and (whether he) will bring the virus,” Schafer said. 

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She said we should tell these worried children that Santa is considered an essential worker and is executing his tasks safely and thoughtfully throughout the pandemic. 

“(Santa) also understands that there is a subjectivity around how nervous people feel, so if you let him know, he will take your family into consideration,” Schafer said. 

When it comes to setting realistic holiday expectations, Schafer said you can have a family discussion and create a list of things that are meaningful to each person this season, along with possible workarounds. 

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“When you get your list compiled, the kids are going to have a sense of reassurance that even though it’s a COVID different year, there are still a lot of the core elements of the holidays that are still there.”  

Click to play video: 'Winnipeg mom creates app for virtual Santa photos'
Winnipeg mom creates app for virtual Santa photos

With many families working on a tighter budget this year, it’s important to prepare children to potentially expect fewer gifts without inciting fear about the family’s financial stability. 

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Schafer recommends being straight forward with your kids and explaining the need to be more fiscally responsible due to the pandemic. 

She said parents could state a dollar amount that they are able to spend, set a limit on gifts under the tree or ask their kids to prioritize the things on their wish list.

And one particularly important gift parents can offer their children this year is an attitude for gratitude. 

Schafer said while this is a gift worth cultivating all year round, gratitude is a theme that becomes especially apparent around the holidays. 

READ MORE: 9 out of 10 Canadians to change, cancel holiday plans amid coronavirus: poll

She suggested having kids state things they’re grateful for every day when they check their advent calendar and having moments to reflect during family gatherings to list experiences worth appreciating. 

“It’s also about expressions to other people. When we’re creating our list, we might say, ‘What can we do for those people we really want to be thankful for in 2020?’ (including) our essential workers … the grocery clerk or the postal (worker),” Schafer said. 

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For more tips on how to explain and cope with the COVID-19 holiday changes, watch the full video above. 

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