You've probably done it to your children and I've done it to mine...taken them to meet the creepy guy in the red suit.
Why is it that an adventure that seemed like such a good idea sometimes turns out all wrong? According to an article in Yahoo Parenting, quoting Gail Saltz, MD. associate professor of psychiatry at The New York Presbyterian Hospital Weill-Cornell School of Medicine, it's probably related to stranger anxiety, which many children experience between 8 months and 2 years. Start with the fact that they're probably hardly ever just plunked on a stranger's lap. Add to that the costume -- even a small child knows people don't really go around like that. And then there's the beard and the eyebrows and the hat that hide almost all of Santa's face. Even very young children pick up cues about emotions from faces -- and this one's covered with fur!
So, what's a parent or grandparent to do? Good advice is to take it slowly. Let the child observe other children getting on that lap...and surviving. Don't force it. It's not worth it. (Because what you know...that the child doesn't know...is that someone even creepier has a lap waiting in a few months: That's the Easter Bunny with the ragged white coat and those big front teeth!) Immediately after this photo was taken, my daughter-in-law came up with a good solution. She went and sat on Santa's lap, too. Her little boy calmed down and Santa had a good day, too!