When Should You Tell Children About the Easter Bunny?
It’s Easter morning. Little feet patter down the hall, and little eyes light up when they spot their Easter baskets. Joyful cries of “The Easter Bunny came!” bounce off the walls. Chocolate and eggs spill onto the table as little hands rummage through the baskets.
We all love these sweet moments, but the innocent naiveté can’t last forever. When is it the right time to share that the careful creator of those baskets is not an oversized, bow-tied bunny, but instead mom or dad? What is the best way to handle these conversations? And how can you keep the holiday fun once the bunny is out of the basket?
Follow the Child’s Lead
“There is no set age that children need to know the truth about the Easter Bunny,” says Jessica Taylor, a licensed clinical social worker with Family Focus & Associates in Baton Rouge. “The key is to follow your child’s lead.” Pay close attention to how your child is responding each Easter. When they become disinterested or suspicious, those are cues that they might be ready.
Trust Your Instincts
“Belief in things like the Easter Bunny helps foster children’s imaginations which is an important part of intellectual development,” says Taylor. When young children ask questions about the Easter Bunny, if you suspect they’re not really ready to know the truth, trust your instincts. You can use their questions as an opportunity to encourage them to use their imaginations, and the way they respond may clue you in as to whether they want to keep believing or not.
“You can respond by asking your child, ‘Well, what do you think?’” says Taylor. “And if he says that of course, the Easter Bunny is real, then go with his answer.” Childhood is the only time in life where magic seems real. Don’t rush to end it until they are ready.
Breaking the News
As a child gets older—typically by the end of elementary school—his questions about the Easter Bunny and the way he responds to your questions may change, cluing you in to the fact that he has already figured it out.
“Older children may respond to your question in a way that suggests they already know the truth,” says Taylor. “Many times, they may be pretending to believe for Mom or Dad’s benefit. You can tell they’re ready to know the truth because they’ll ask more direct questions, more frequently.”
Taylor encourages, “You’ll be able to tell when they’re mature and old enough to handle the truth.”
Keep it Fun
Easter doesn’t have to stop being fun just because kids don’t believe in the Easter Bunny anymore. There are plenty of ways to make it fun for older kids who are in the know. Reassure them that the family’s traditional celebrations, such as Easter baskets or egg hunts, will continue—and in fact, they can now be fun in new ways, too.
“For older siblings who now know the truth about the Easter Bunny, you can keep the excitement of the Easter Bunny alive by making them feel like they’re now in the secret club of adults who know,” says Taylor. “You can even include them on Easter basket preparations for younger siblings, or hiding Easter eggs for cousins or neighborhood kids—anything that would make them feel like they’re contributing to keeping the magic alive for younger children.”
She also points out, “If your family has religious roots, this is a great opportunity to remind children about the real reason we celebrate Easter, shifting your main focus to the death and resurrection of Jesus.” But above all, Taylor advises, reassure them that the fun will continue.
“Easter traditions will not come to an end just because the Easter Bunny secret is out,” Taylor says. “The fun of the Easter Bunny doesn’t ever have to go away, no matter how old your children are. As a grown adult with children of my own, my mom still loves preparing an Easter basket for me, and I shamelessly admit that I love it too.” Easter magic is what you make it. ■