Getting a picture with the Easter Bunny is a rite of passage for parents and for kids. It’s a bizarre tradition, but it’s just one of those things that you do, much like getting a picture with Santa.
The problem is, the Easter Bunny is not like Santa. For starters, he’s not human. He’s also kind of terrifying. Some of those decades-old costumes — with their ratty fur and big, dead eyes — are the stuff that nightmares are made of. Putting a small child into that powder keg of a situation could be a recipe for disaster.
Here are 7 ways to prepare your kids to meet the Easter Bunny so that you can get a sweet picture instead of traumatizing them for life.
Read a basketful of Easter books. Preparation is key, and stories about the strange bunny-man normalizes the strangeness of it all. Loving the stories might not always translate into your kids loving the Easter Bunny once they see him in the flesh — er, fluff? — but it can help them get used to the idea and hopefully not break down into hysterics. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to know that the Easter Bunny brings gifts and/or candy to good little girls and boys.
Scope out the local Bunnies. So do some parenting homework and see which Bunnies are the least frightening. Combine your research with an unrelated trip to the mall, and ask friends about their past experiences at various picture-taking locations. Team up to ward off potential Bunny horror.
Don’t visit the Bunny during prime hours. When you’ve been standing in line for an hour, the pressure to make things work increases exponentially. Kids can feel that stress, and it often sets them off. Also, at a less busy time of day, you can check out the Easter Bunny from a distance and let your kid warm up to the idea if he’s feeling hesitant. If he balks when you bring him toward the Bunny, you can always try again in a little while.
Take your child’s schedule into consideration. Naps and food make everything better on a regular day. On a day in which the stakes are higher, they are essential. Pack extra water and snacks in case the trip takes longer than expected.
Bring a special Easter treat. I’m not suggesting bribery…but I’m kind of suggesting bribery. (Although “motivation” sounds a lot better, don’t you think?) Anyway, a small piece of chocolate or a handful of pastel jellybeans can do the trick. Secretly stash them in your bag and only break them out in case of emergency.
Don’t force the situation. Your kid is freaking out. You desperately want one stinking picture. Is that too much to ask? In a word: Yes. Forcing your screaming child to sit on the Easter Bunny’s lap will only make things worse in the moment. Plus, today’s picture isn’t worth tonight’s nightmares — or a sense of dread when Easter time comes around next year. You can always get creative with a picture of your child near the Easter scene if the Bunny thing just isn’t happening.
Trick your kid into a quick pic. Here’s a tip from Santa’s elves that you can apply to an Easter excursion: Place your little one in the Easter Bunny’s lap, hold his gaze and then slowly walk backward out of frame. Position yourself next to the camera and you just might get the perfect shot — if the photographer snaps quickly. This works best with babies, who can be mesmerized a little more easily than older children. You never know what a toddler will do in the moment…much like every other moment of life with a toddler.
About the author: Dawn Yanek is a pop-culture and parenting expert, and the founder of Momsanity.com. She has worked as an on-air spokesperson for Life & Style Weekly and Match.com, a contributor for ESPN2’s Cold Pizza and a relationships columnist for Stuff magazine. Her writing on parenting has also been featured on Scary Mommy, What the Flicka? and BonBon Break. She is the proud mother of two adorable kids and one crazy Pomapoo, all of whom share her obsessive love of ’80s music.