And I thought Halloween was tough.


New Member
Now, this is the first year that difficult child is really aware of Santa. In the last few days, difficult child has also been on the down side so that means crying very easily over just anything. I have spent the majority of my time trying to be uplifting and keeping him happy so he won't be so upset.

Someone please please tell me how to explain to this child that Santa can't come RIGHT NOW! TODAY! /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/919Mad.gifYou name it, I've told him. He can't come till Christmas. His phone is broke so we can't call him. His reindeer only fly on Christmas Eve. on and on and on. Nothing helps. He is obsessing something awful over this.

I may be absolutely insane by Christmas and none of this will matter. :hammer: :tears:


Well-Known Member
{{{Hugs}}}. The holidays are usually over-the-top when dealing with a difficult child. Most kids fall into the Santa trap at some point. Duckie was three (almost four). It helped to focus on other aspects of the season: church, baking, carols, charity. Just try not to decorate too much. I found it best to "layer-in" the decorations. Perhaps an advent calendar will help him learn about the amount of time until Christmas Eve. Or even just X'ing off the days on the calendar with Christmas Eve colored in red.
Good luck. This time of year is trying at best.


Well-Known Member
The advent calendar is a really good idea.

Even if you have to make one yourself with a big poster board and squares that you stick little prizes or something on to take off each day to mark down till xmas.


Active Member
we do a chain. He gets to tear one day off at a time. I label the stripes of paper with the dates. Some how he understands better that he can;t sppeed up Christmas if its labeled with that date.


Active Member
Just to confuse matters, :wink: I wound up leaving the Advent calendar away in the drawer after a few years because it seemed to make mine worse. I had to keep things really low key because my difficult child obsessed over Christmas gifts to the point of not being able to sleep at night weeks before the big event.

Some things that helped:
1) As TM mentioned, keeping decorations on the slim side helped a lot, as did moving the Christmas tree to a location where it wasn't constantly in sight and disrupting his main play area. Gifts didn't go under the tree until Christmas morning so they weren't adding to the problem.

2) Watch the Christmas talk--I was amazed once I tuned into myself how much chit chat I was initiating about the holidays in the weeks leading up to it. Just a comment here and a comment there but it really added up. Kids will be inundated with the holidays outside of the four walls of the home so I decided there could be one place they weren't bombarded with it. We don't generally watch tv outside of PBS or videos so they weren't getting commercial breaks every ten minutes and that helped big time I think.

3) I enlisted sibling's help on the above by giving them whatever their level of holiday talk needs were when difficult child wasn't around. My daughter especially is a big Christmas fan so it was hard but when difficult child was off to school we'd do it up big--plan, play music, wrap, bake, etc.

4) We don't do Santa--we were going to but my oldest easy child was absolutely terrified by anything Santa for several years that I finally put him out of his misery and told us the truth. I mean he had it bad to the point of any Santa (stuffed, inflated, moving, real, etc) would cause terror in the kid (as did Halloween) so that he didn't want to even go anywhere because...well, they're everywhere. That helped when difficult child came down the line because Santa wasn't some phantom good guy with an unlimited number of toys to bring him. Mom and dad bring the toys and we don't have a lot of money.

5) Gifts were difficult child's bane during the holiday season--caused him serious problems even to the point of him crying at night and not wanting to go to the school party because of the nature of the gift exhange. One year he had a book exchange while his siblings had a regular (likely toy) exchange and he was furious and couldn't cope. His teacher even offered to let him go home early and not attend the party. What we finally worked out was to go select a small toy and wrap it and stash it in his drawer to open when he got home.

6) I banned all talk of "What I want for Christmas" until a certain date. On Dec X the kids could give me their lists but not before. This helped a lot plus it gave them time to think about what to put down.

7) The gift problem reached its peak somewhere around K or 1st grade and I had to take some drastic steps or we wouldn't survive. difficult child was miserable--not so much about when it would get here but about whether or not he would get what he wanted so desperately (in line with his obsession). The whole surprise aspect of gift giving was making my son totally frenzied so it had to go. Finally I sat down with him and made a written list of what we wanted and then together we decided which were his top three picks that were affordable/reasonable. After that I wrote whether I would shop for it or he would come with me, who would wrap it and with what wrapping paper. When we'd carried out that plan he took the gifts and stashed him in his closet and his anxiety level was tremendously lowered. It seemed ludicrous in a way but I decided any tradition that was causing emotional distress to such a level had to go.

8) difficult child was so worried about receiving something he didn't want I was seriously concerned about how he'd act around the rest of the family. The first time I realized we were in trouble was when he'd received an Easter basket from a relative that had something in it he didn't want and he flung it down with a comment and the relatives were shocked and I was horrified. So, we have a drill around here that goes like this: "If you get something you already have or don't want, just say THANK YOU and then quietly tell mom about it later." When I say "drill" I mean exactly that--my kids know it so well now that when I start the sentence on the way to Grandma's I get the "We know, we know"...and the rest spewed out. difficult child had to have this followed up with some positive action to make it stick so for a few years there I swapped the gifts he didn't want, either by returning them, paying him and sticking them in the garage sale pile, etc. I know there are some problems with this, but I went for survival first and then as he was calmer and more mature I could deal with the attitude issue and turn the plan over to him.

Good luck with this. I know how hard it can be when a child can't cope this early in the season. Last year difficult child was 9 and things are so much better but around Dec 1 I can count on his issues starting to rise and not settling down until mid Jan. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/10-311.gif :wink:


New Member
Thanks everyone, I think one of the reasons it is turning so bad so fast is that before I kept him home and we just didn't deal with it much. This year he's in prek and the holiday is pretty much front and center. Remember, we were so lucky to get the one teacher of three at school who is PRO holiday. That's OK but with one of our kiddos it is a nightmare. She is already playing Christmas music.

Last year we decorated for Christmas like the week before. Very low key. We are fast approaching his 5th birthday which we will celebrate a week after Thanksgiving (I can't believe we have actually made it 5 whole years, lol).

Any attention brought to the holidays is met with frenzy. It is like he just cannot handle anything outside his little routine. One thing leads to another and another and we are off :wildone:.

I thought about the advent calender and something like the chain but I know we will spend the entire next month explaining constantly why we can't just change to another date or take off the chains all through the day. :hammer:

SRL... as I read your post I could just see this unfolding at our house. This is the way my difficult child reacts. Never occurred to me to tell him the truth :blush: about Santa. I can see that as a definite possibility.

I just never know what will be the catalyst that will set him off. Right now he is crying because I won't get in the car right now and take him to see Santa. It is 7:30 AM and completely out of the realm of possibility. Not to mention the second he sees Santa he will probably hide behind me or run away. The minute we get in the car he will start back up crying he didn't get to see Santa. Over and over.

Anyway, thanks for the suggestions I am willing to try anything at this point.



Active Member
The bottom line to me was that in the end Santa is a lie--a fun one for most children with a lot of room for positives--but in the end a lie parents tell kids. I just wasn't willing to let my first child suffer a lot of emotional distress for the purposes of perpetrating a lie. We gave the boys the option to "make believe" Santa but difficult child had huge anxiety issues and the prospect of some big guy entering our house at night when we were all asleep had no positive aspects at all.

Had my sons not had issues we would have had a ball with Santa (especially my daughter) but for us it wasn't worth it.


Roll With It
I think SRL has a lot of good ideas.

I still ban any talk of "what I want" until a set date, then we make a wishlist on Amazon for the grandparents. Once the list is done, it is DONE. If you pester me to add things, I take 1 off.

If they hunt for presents and find them, I take them back. And get something cheaper and boring. My mom did it with us. It is a sanity saver. I am up front with the policy from the time they are very little. had to be with difficult child.

We open 1 present on Christmas Eve. This seems to help.

Advent calendars have been so helpful, esp since my oldest learned the hard way that opening all the boxes on one day made all talk of Christmas go away except the Bible version.

I even take wide ribbon and staple small candies, etc... between long strips to count down the days to Easter and other holidays.

We concentrate on giving gifts, esp to places like the animal shelter.

We set a limit on the cost of gifts, even from Santa. The big presents come from us or the grandparents, NOT some magical guy with a bag of presents. Keeps the expectations more reasonable if you want to keep the Santa thing going.

This year we are going to start a "helping chain". It is a paper chain made of links iwth good deeds or ways we helped each other or strangers written on them. 1 good deed per strip. A basket of cut strips and some tape is all we need to start. It will take some of the focus off of stuff and put it where it belongs, with the spirit of the season (no, not rum, LOL!!!!)