AUGUSTA,Ga. (WJBF)- For many of you taking pictures with Santa is a Christmas tradition that takes you back to your own childhood.
Some experts say forcing your kids to sit on Santa’s lap can be traumatizing.
For many kids it’s fun to see Santa Claus, but for others it can bring their biggest fears to life.
We spoke to one local man who plays Santa for the holidays.
“You’re forcing something on them and it really can take the spirit of Christmas away from the child. They will be scared to death with anything related to Santa,” says Truck Carlson, a local veteran who plays Santa.
Truck Carlson has played the role of Santa for the last five years, while he served over seas. It something he says started in an orphanage in Korea, an experience he says made him want to continue once he got back to the states.
“A lot of them run up to me and just want a hug. They want to hug me and jump in my lap. Talk about a Grinch moment, my heart grows three sizes every time that happens,” says Carlson.
He mentions how not everything about being Santa is always jolly and bright.
“It’s happen a lot this year. They don’t tell me they want any toys, they just want people to get along and that’s what they tell me. I look at them and ask well what do you want for yourself. They answer no Santa that’s it, I just want people to get along,” says Carlson.
Kari Viola-Brooke is the director at the Child Enrichment Center. She says we need to consider what long term effects.
“Child abuse prevention, no forced affection. Some parents maybe thinking oh, I’m just having them sit on Santa’s lap but that still goes into forced affection. We want children to understand at a really young age that their body is their body and if they don’t want to do something with their body they don’t have to,” says Brooke.
Santa has some advice for parents.
“Let it happen when the child is ready, if it’s not four years old… maybe it’ll be at five years old but, give the child enough freedom and room to be comfortable because if you force them at four they’re probably not going to do it at five,” says Carlson.
He says sometimes the kids care more for his sidekick.
“Ms.clause joins me which helps tremendously for kids who are afraid of Santa. She’s less threatening, so a lot of times kids will sit on her lap next to me and that lays the fear a lot,” says Carlson.
Experts also say you should prepare your child by telling them they’re going to see Santa, if they want they can take a picture seating on his lap, this way they know what to expect and aren’t of afraid when they see Santa.