How can you reassure a child Santa is coming this year, while also helping them focus more on the non-presents side of Christmas?
Joanna Fortune, psychotherapist specialising in Child & Adult Psychotherapy, joined Moncrieff to answer these and other listener questions...
"My eight-year-old is extremely worried that Santa won’t make it to our house this year because of COVID, as last year there were less presents than usual in our house. I have tried reassuring her but she implies that it’s a regular conversation amongst her classmates and that is only exacerbating her concerns.
"While I have been comforting her, I would also like her to focus less on the ‘presents’ side of Christmas – so how do I make her more aware of both the need to not worry and also to appreciate the privilege of her situation?"
"A lot of us came hurtling out of Halloween straight into Christmas. We felt we needed to focus on something positive because there was so much negative narrative... we Christmas'ed very early. But it's quite hard to maintain two months of Christmas high, especially for children.
"Of course Santa is coming and COVID doesn't apply. This other piece about focusing on all you have... that's difficult, because no matter what we like to say Christmas does revolve around a lot of gifts. It's hard for children to get their heads around [the other aspects].
"Maybe slow things down by choosing one Christmas-focused activity each week. It could be we're going to write our cards and post them, or we're going to wrap some gifts, or we're going to do some decorating. And maybe choose one family Christmas film to watch together each week. You can then cross those off on a calendar.
"I would also certainly emphasise that yes Christmas involves gifts, but giving gifts is as much fun as receiving them. That's not something you can trot off your tongue like a tagline - you actually have to do that, and believe it yourself.
"You could let your little one make, bake or buy small gifts they're going to give to others. Choose some family members, siblings or parents... whatever it might be. It doesn't have to be a load of gifts.
"The joy of making something with someone else in mind - wrapping it and giving it to them and seeing the joy of them receiving it - also brings that sense of joy.
"I also think you could do something quite simple, like baking some biscuits at home. Leave them at a hostel where homeless people are staying, or at an elder person's home in your community. Then [your daughter's] also understanding giving to others.
"It's not always affordable or possible for everybody, but if you have some scope to add a couple of tins or non-perishable items to contribute to a food drive... make her a part of that, and call them your 'share food items'.
"I think that's very helpful in instilling in kids that Christmas is about something more than 'I want, I want, I want'.
"They're at the receiving end of a bombardment of marketing and ads of toys. It's quite natural for our children to want, want, want. It doesn't make them commercial little monsters.
"But we have a great opportunity to instil that there's more to this Christmas season."