November 24, 2019


We would love you to join our discussion. Where do your children sit for their photo with Santa?

A couple of years ago a child protection activist raised concerns saying it was best not to sit children on Santa’s lap for Christmas photos.

It sparked a massive debate at the time on social media, Bravehearts founder, Hetty Johnston, spoke out about the need for children to feel safe and not feel pressured to sit on Santa’s knee.

“The directive would be for children to stand beside, unless parents or children request to sit on his knee,” she told the Courier Mail.

“Shopping centres have duty of care to protect children on premises.

“We teach kids it’s ok to say no if they don’t feel safe.

“This means not having to sit on anyone’s lap, including family members, if they don’t want to.”

Australian sexuality educator, Deanne Carson, told Kidspot, “I don’t want to slam parents – but I think they can undermine their child’s trust when they coerce or bribe or blackmail,” she says.

“It can set up some very unhappy consequences – if the child is at risk, and they don’t trust that the adult is going to support them in setting boundaries around body autonomy.”

While she does think that the message about consent is getting through to parents – the message unravels when parents’ desires override the child’s needs.

Are your children happy to have a photo with Santa? How do they prefer to do it?

We have shared the story of schools banning students from including candy canes and similar treats with their Christmas cards PLUS a call to ban reindeers at Christmas festivities.

Top that off with a warning to parents to STOP lying to kids about Santa and Christmas is all but over as far as the Grinch is concerned. Then there was the new policy regarding gifts for teachers  and the changes to how Santa could give lollies from the firetruck.

Share your comments below.

Image Getty photo

  • Agree with all this, but have viewed some hilarious (joining in with laughter and not laughing at them) photos of young friends and families not enjoying their Santa visit, and now a fun memory especially as the years add nostalgia.


  • I agree, we should never force our kids to sit with Santa . When our kids indicate they don’t want something we should respect them


  • Times have really changed haven’t they? What was once so innocent is not so these days. It makes me sad, Christmas has lost all its magic and wonder for our kids today. Honestly if my child wants to stand next to santa or sit on his knee I trust her to make the decision she feels comfortable with. I would never force her to do anything that makes her uncomfortable. Merry Christmas everyone x


  • I hate seeing kids being forced into sitting with Santa – he’s a scary looking guy. Don’t we teach them about stranger danger? I’m not an advocate for the forced photo.


  • My daughter isn’t interested at 4.5
    She loves saying hello but doesn’t want a photo. I need to respect that and maybe she will be comfortable next year or the next.
    If someone told me I had to go sit with an old man dressed in Red I’d probably get scared too.


  • if the kids are happy to sure, why not, but it makes me angry when I see crying kids being forced into it.


  • I don’t think it’s funny or cute to see kids hysterical with santa. It’s just not worth putting your kid through that just for a picture


  • I totally agree because first he is not a real Santa and totally a stranger for the kids, secondly there are other ways of taking a photo with Santa other than sitting on his lap. If parents force the kids than they contradict the statement of Stranger danger and confuse the kids about who to trust and who not to trust.


  • this statement is so true, not just in this circumstance but in many parts of parenting “parents’ desires override the child’s needs”. I read in a book not too long ago that parents who recognise and respond appropriately to their babies/childrens emotional needs actually help in raising them to be emotionally aware and more controlled and happy than parents who are overly responsive and those who don’t respond at all.


  • My 4 yo sits next to Santa.
    If she didn’t want to, I would NEVER make her.
    I don’t want her to feel like she can’t say no in social situation.


  • My child sits on Santa’s lap but I would never force it.


  • My son did not enjoy his first 3 years of photos with Santa so we just stopped doing it.


  • I think the hardest part is waiting in line for so long to be honest haha


  • I understand teaching kids to say no if they don’t feel comfortable and not forcing them to do that particular thing.
    I do like how they now give an option to sit next to Santa’s on a provided plush chair.
    I’ve had to comfort my eldest for her second Christmas but all the others have been fine and my youngest always… and I mean always pulls Santa’s beard


  • I think Santa should offer his seat to the children and let them decide. I agree that kids should not be forced to sit on Santa’s lap!


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