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Tuesday
Dec212010

Ho Ho Horrible: Is Your Child Scared of Santa? 

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(CLEVELAND, Ohio) -- At age 2, Christopher Texler couldn't wait to meet Santa. He watched patiently as, one by one, his daycare mates were hoisted onto Santa's knee. But when it came his turn, Christopher was petrified.
 
"The look on his face was one of desperate terror," recalled Christopher's mom, Kirsten Texler, who has the photo to prove it. "He just lost it!"

Christopher's reaction is surprisingly common. Margaret Richards, PhD, a child psychologist at Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital, says it's normal for young children to be wary of strangers – especially ones so strangely dressed.

"We really work with kids on not talking to strangers and being cautious about those kinds of things, and that all goes out the window at Christmas time," Richards says.

Coulrophobia, the fear of clowns, is perhaps more widely accepted than the fear of Santa. But the figures share similar disconcerting features, including their large stature, abnormal dress and covered faces.

The key to overcoming Santa-induced stress, Richards said, is talking about what to expect. But if, like Christopher, a child wants to be nowhere near Santa, there are other ways to get in touch.

"They can write letter or draw a picture," Richards said. "Parents should make sure their children know Santa will still get the message."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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