Usually parents find that they do not have to deliver the heartbreaking news. When your child begins school, he is likely to hear from some other child that there is no Santa. Often, there are tears. Usually always, there are questions. You may experience some reaction yourself. Parents often feel angry when someone ruins your child’s fantasy, or you feel discouraged about answering the broken-hearted questions.
The first rule is don’t lie to your child. You don’t have to tell him more than he asks or is ready to know, but you do need to be truthful if he asks you the straightforward question. Santa is a fantasy, and fantasy is good, healthful and wonderful. Don’t overprotect your child, which victimizes him. Don’t blame or pity (That little Jake shouldn’t have ruined it for you.) Just be understanding and let your child know that you have the greatest of faith in his ability to handle the situation.
You can’t fix the disappointment, but you can help your child explore his feelings. Demonstrate understanding and empathy by sharing your own story about the loss of Santa as a reality. Reassure your child that the fantasy of Santa will continue to be a tradition in your home, with presents from Santa and the perpetuation of the fantasy with subsequent, younger members of your family. If for some reason your child escapes exposure by a peer, I would suggest that the parents have a discussion about the best time to inform their children, perhaps keeping in mind that most children have no remaining doubt between the ages of 6 and 10.