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Expert explains why putting a crying child on Santa’s lap for a photo is never okay – Daily Mail - http://maxmoneyonline.co.za | make money fast

December 14, 2018 12:09 am
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The annual family photograph with kids sitting on Santa’s knee is a tradition that’s almost as old as Christmas itself.

And while ‘fail’ photos of kids crying mid-shot are shared by thousands of amused parents on an annual basis, experts say there’s nothing funny about them.  

Australian parenting expert and a father of six Dr Justin Coulson said while parents might want to persist, forcing an upset child to sit on a stranger’s knee is never okay.

‘If a child is distressed or non-consenting then it’s disrespectful and it can even be bullying to force a child to sit on a stranger’s lap for a photograph,’ Dr Coulson told FEMAIL.

‘Just because we love to see the pictures, doesn’t mean it’s worthwhile.’ 

If a child is distressed by the prospect of sitting on a stranger's knee Dr Coulson said  

If a child is distressed by the prospect of sitting on a stranger's knee Dr Coulson said  

According to Dr Coulson it’s never okay to force a child to sit on a Santa’s knee, especially if a child’s is distressed and clearly upset (stock image) 

Australian parenting expert and father of six Dr Justin Coulson (pictured)

Australian parenting expert and father of six Dr Justin Coulson (pictured)

Australian parenting expert and father of six Dr Justin Coulson (pictured)

He explained part of the problem was parents who pushed their children to do things they felt uncomfortable were likely to override their child’s needs in other areas too.

‘Parents who force their kids to do this, even if they [their children] don’t want to may not stop at Santa photos,’ said the expert and author of 10 Things Every Parent Needs To Know.

‘So they could actually be setting up a dangerous pattern that’s been shown at Christmas with the Santa photos but actually happens all the time.’

Dr Coulson noted while one-off occurrences of this nature didn’t appear to impact on a child’s development, parents who are consistently pushy can set up a belief in a child that their needs and wants don’t matter. 

Dr Coulson said a simple solution if a child is feeling stressed is to simply gather the family around Santa for a photo (stock image)

Dr Coulson said a simple solution if a child is feeling stressed is to simply gather the family around Santa for a photo (stock image)

Dr Coulson said a simple solution if a child is feeling stressed is to simply gather the family around Santa for a photo (stock image)

How to reduce a child’s anxiety if they’re stressed about a Santa photo:

If a child isn’t comfortable with sitting on Santa’s knee for a photo, Dr Coulson said change the focus by allowing a child to sit beside Santa or bring other family members into the picture to make the child feel more comfortable.

‘Parents who consistently disregard their children’s fears, anxieties and feelings rob their children of agency.

‘They increase the likelihood that their child will feel as if he or she doesn’t matter or belong and they run the risk that this type of consistent behaviour will lead to genuine long-term psychological challenges.’  

While Dr Coulson said there’s no problem if a child is comfortable with sitting on Santa’s lap for a photo, those who weren’t needed their boundaries respected. 

‘We make a big deal about teaching children about body boundaries and about body safety and about consent,’ he said.

‘We teach kids this stuff from such a young age, then we go and completely ignore it at Christmas time.’ 

 
 

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