Preparing your kids for tear-free, picture-perfect photos with Santa

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- 'Tis the season for visits with Santa and though every parent hopes it will be a picture-perfect moment, kids don't always cooperate.

Fortunately, we got some tips from a child expert to help cut down on the chance of tears.

It's a special childhood moment parents hope to capture - their son or daughter with Santa. But sometimes parents overstress - and kids pick up on it.

"If the parent isn't calm and having fun with the experience, the child's going to have a hard time doing that, too," said Elizabeth Gosch.

Gosch, a child psychologist from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, says parents who prepare will have more success.

If your child has a special outfit, make sure they're used to it - and comfortable in it. Talk about Santa, and practice what will happen to form positive feelings.

"They can have their kids watch good experiences of kids modeling, being in Santa's lap on YouTube or other social media, being able to see other kids enjoy being with Santa," said Dr. Gosch.

Make sure your child's well-rested and well-fed before the visit and make a strategy for the wait.

"Maybe people are expecting them to stand still or sit still too long. They're expecting them not to run around in a situation where they really need to be active," said Dr. Gosch.

Get some space - take a helper along to keep your child occupied while you wait in line.

Dr. Gosch says it's normal for little ones to be wary of strangers - even Santa. It actually helps them stay safe.

And around 18 months to 2 years, they may get anxious being separated from parents, even a short distance, so stay attuned to your child's feelings.

Mom or Dad - be ready If it doesn't work out the way you hoped.

"Take it with a grain of salt, and not get too upset about it," said Dr. Gosch.

Dr. Gosch says be sure to praise and reward your child for good behavior - it could make next year a whole lot better.

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