Learn three expert-approved ways to answer your child if they ask whether the Easter Bunny is real.

When I was five, eggs were hidden throughout the house, placed carefully by my parents so that I could easily find them in the morning. With childlike anticipation, I rose early to find the gifts that the Easter Bunny left behind. My parents laughed when I announced that the Easter Bunny had not done a very good job hiding eggs and that now I had to hide them all over again from my siblings. 

Nevertheless, I carried the Easter egg hunt tradition into my parenting, often making it a fun neighborhood celebration for all families, regardless of faith tradition. 

Every year, one of the children asks “Is the Easter Bunny real?” 

Uh-oh. Parents would stutter, trying to come up with a satisfying answer, feeling like it was just yesterday that questions about Santa and the Tooth Fairy had been asked.

3 Ways to Answer 'Is the Easter Bunny Real?'

Answering life’s big questions are often difficult for parents and being caught off guard with queries of the Easter Bunny’s authenticity can be a challenge.

Here are three help ways to engage your child in this sensitive conversation:

1. Join in on Their Curiosity

Children ask a lot of questions about a lot of things to which we have few answers. Back seat conversations are filled with “why is the sky blue?” type questions. Rather than giving them the quick and factual answer, try asking responding with “that’s a really interesting question. What do you think about it?” 

This is a helpful conversation starter that engages your child around their imagination or letting you know what they have heard from friends. It's not uncommon for a child to bring home news like “you know what? My friend says that the Easter Bunny isn’t real. He’s made up.” 

What a great opportunity to ask your child what he or she might believe. And leave the possibility open about wondering.

2. Encourage Your Child to Question

Is the Easter Bunny real? 

Imagine what our communities would be like if every Spring, the Easter Bunny came and left candy, surprises, and a fun game of hide and seek. What would it be like without the Easter Bunny? 

These are great conversations about traditions, gatherings, sharing, fun, new beginnings. These conversations are helpful with those other Santa and Tooth Fairy questions. And it’s helpful with harder questions around life’s transitions, such as:

  • “Where do we go when we die?”  
  • “Is there really a Heaven and will my dog be there?” 
  • “Where do babies come from?”

Spending time verbalizing questions and imagining with a child allows them to talk about their hopes, dreams, fears, and anxieties. These “Easter Bunny” questions might allow them to talk about social issues such as “Why do I get a lot in my Easter basket but my friend gets nothing?” 

Or religious difference like “Why doesn't Santa visit every child?” Or conversations about fear--“How can I trust that the Easter Bunny is a nice guy when he sneaks in my house? This makes me scared.” 

3. Explain Kindly and Empathetically 

Your child’s age and development will determine how far down the path of wondering and imagination you take your conversation. Many kids will come to conclusions on their own but afraid that if they ask the questions, the Easter baskets, money under their pillow, or stocking stuffers will all come to an end. 

Re-engage the conversation beginning with “Well, what do you think?” 

You may have also come to the conclusion that your child is in the developmental stage of life where they go from imaginary to reality. 

It’s okay to tell them the truth at any stage, but do it kindly and empathetically saying, “does that feel disappointing to you? Maybe you’re afraid that our family traditions are now over.” 

An explanation honors your child’s development and it is appropriate to let them know that traditions like Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny are fun ways to celebrate seasons of life. Conversations around Santa Claus allow discussions of giving, the Tooth Fairy honors the growth and development of a child with a surprise and the Easter Bunny’s arrival announces the beginning of Spring and new things. 

All of these traditions bring about deeper conversations around charity, faith, and family.  

As parents, we often avoid the conversation about what's real and what's not real because we are afraid of disappointing our children. Greet these questions as a celebration of their growth and curiosity and be open to weaving in these whimsical traditions throughout their childhood and youth. 

Besides, I don’t know any teenager who turns down a chocolate Egg, or money under a pillow, or treats left by Santa. 

About Charlene Underhill Miller, PhD

Charlene Underhill Miller, PhD is a psychotherapist in Southern California with private practices in Santa Monica and Malibu. She helps parents, children, couples and individuals. A graduate of UCLA and Fuller School of Psychology, Dr. Miller also is involved in school-based education and consultation, an adjunct faculty member of the Pepperdine University Graduate School of Psychology, a wife, mother, and stepmother. 

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