Scary Santa

Scary Santa

For many years I played Santa at my wife’s school during the holiday season.  It was generally a wonderful experience.  Young children would recite their wish lists and pose for adorable pictures that their parents would then use to create greeting cards and/or place in albums of cherished memories.

However, it also was an extremely unpleasant experience on occasion.  Sometimes a young child would be freaked out by this strange, oddly dressed man and by all the hustle and bustle surrounding him.  Nevertheless, the parents would be bound and determined to get that special portrait so they would insist that the little one sit on my lap.  And while I would feel terrible during the ensuing ordeal, I could only imagine how much worse it was for the frightened child who was being berated for squirming and crying instead of sitting still and smiling.

So I urge you to be understanding with your little one.  Go ahead and give the Santa snapshot a try.  If your child gleefully cooperates, fine.  But if she shows any reluctance, even after she seemed to be enthusiastic while you were standing on line for 45 minutes, don’t push it.  Try again another day or wait until next year.  Meanwhile, there are other ways to get an appropriate holiday picture, and the less-than-ideal one you would be forcing your child to take is not going to be worth the price that you pay financially and that she pays psychologically.

Michael K. Meyerhoff, Ed.D. (a.k.a. “Dr. Mike”) is a member of the management team at Romp n’ Roll.  After receiving his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Columbia University, he earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in human development from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he also held a position as a researcher with the Harvard Preschool Project.  He may be contacted via e-mail at