By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Visiting Santa is a holiday tradition, probably on the agenda for many of you this weekend.

It’s exciting for lots of children, but for some, a trip to see Old St. Nick can result in tears and screams.

Experts say there are a number of reasons why children are afraid of Santa: he is an unusual looking stranger and what’s up with him knowing everything.

“If the child appears reluctant, encourage the child to give it a try. It’s always important to try things we’re a little bit afraid of, but if they’re really hesitant or don’t want to do it, then forcing them is not going to help,” said Kate Eshleman, with the Cleveland Clinic Children.

And the doctor says it’s not good to say, “Don’t be silly.” It’s important to respect a child’s fear.

Better to go slow, especially on the first visit.

“Maybe show the child a picture of what they can expect to see; asking them what they would like to talk to Santa about and trying to frame it in a positive light,” said Eshleman.

And parents should keep in mind that most children are told about stranger dangers to keep them safe. So even though Santa is a friendly character, he’s still a stranger

And experts say some kids will never warm up to Santa, which is fine. Parents shouldn’t force the issue.

It’s important to remember visiting Saint Nick is supposed to be a fun holiday experience.

 

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