Thursday, 4 December 2014

Santa Photos.... Christmas traditions or nightmares?

The Christmas season is upon us and soon families will be taking their darling children to get a great photo with Santa.  Every parent feels the same way, they HOPE it will go well, but can never be quite sure. We had those same feelings when we adopted the last 3 of our sibling group of 7 and their birth Mom had one special request "a picture of the 7 with Santa".  It must have been that new adoption excitement because when I look back a photo with 7 young children aged 1-7 all with high special needs, what was I thinking.   Anyway, I naively agreed thinking that doesn't sound too bad and if that's what is important too her we can do it.  

We spent hours making sure they look perfect! Dressing the kids up in their holiday best, making sure their hair was groomed and they were excited, not nervous, about meeting the big man.  We made sure that each child knew what they wanted to ask Santa for, rehearsed it several times.  Then we were off to meet the big man in hopes of capturing the perfect shot.  Maybe, even one for this year’s family Christmas card! Then it was game time….the kids had rehearsed it a million times in their heads, they knew what they want to ask Santa for and were ready for the big meeting, but something snapped, something went wrong and boom – full all out meltdown.  It took us 4 separate visits with multiple pictures each time to get a picture that looked 1/2 way presentable.  All our various attempts gave close families and friends a good laugh with all the photographic evidence, we may even a photo or two to show at the kids future weddings.  

If you try braving your own Santa photo and your child has special needs, I have some suggestions:

Find the right Santa for the job
Not everyone is comfortable with people with special needs and this includes Santa's so talk with your Santa ahead of time.  Children can sense if someone is not comfortable with them and their behaviors can escalate as a result.  Some malls have a special time for people with special needs to visit Santa and some Santa's will come to your home. Ask questions of your Santa:  Are they in a handicap accessible location? Is their a better time to come? Do they have experience with the type of special need your child has?  Another option is purchasing your own Santa suit which is more economical now with the cost of these suits coming down in price.  

Calming Santa fears
Many children are fearful of Santa, so if a Santa picture is important to you work with your child ahead of time.  Read stories, watch Santa from afar, watch videos, play dress up - putting on a beard so your child gets experience with beards and make a social story telling what to expect on their visit. 

What to wear
Have your child wear something they feel comfortable in.  If your child has sensory issues this isn't the time to put them in the frilly dress and/or shirts and ties.  Sitting with Santa is a challenge don't add to it by dressing them in clothing they are uncomfortable with.  

1 comment:

  1. All excellent sessional advice. I don't think I have a single picture of my boys with Santa. I was always relieved it went well, without Santa being abused or shocked by my children's behaviour or language.

    Thanks for sharing on #WASO