When we were kids, we were made to believe that there’s this white-bearded man called Santa Claus, wearing a red coat with white collar and cuffs, black leather belt and boots, riding in a reindeer sleigh, who brings gifts during Christmas Eve.
As we get older, we will learn that Santa Claus does not really exist. That the presents we see under the Christmas tree or inside the stockings did not really come from him but from our beloved parents who just wanted to surprise or make us happy.
As parents, depending on how we reacted as a kid upon learning the truth, we have the option to make our kids believe or not in Santa Claus.
The following guidelines may help in making that decision:
- It’s good to believe in Santa. According to Dr. Lynda Breen of Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool, published at The Guardian website, “Believing in Father Christmas (Santa Claus) helps boost children’s mental development and social skills. It also helps develop a child’s sense of charitable giving as well as their consideration of others less fortunate than themselves.”
Some theories say that encouraging ours kid to believe in Santa may foster traits of kindness and cooperation; family bonding, pro-social behavior, including sharing; enhance fantastical thinking, purposeful play, and expansion of the internal object world.
- Belief in Santa is usually limited to early childhood. It is considered as a rite of passage that usually signals the adoption of an adult-defined reality.
“In all ages, a good imagination is important, but it’s crucial for very young children. They simply cannot do without a good fantasy life,” said Carolyn Saarni, PhD, a developmental psychologist and professor of counseling at Sonoma State University in California, published at MedicineNet.com.
“Play is central to cognitive development,” added Saarni. The ability to manipulate things in fantasy can help kids master the world. Play allows them to practice what they would do in the real world.
- Be honest. Sooner or later, our kids will find out that Santa Claus is not real and we don’t want them to call us a liar. “Parents had to weigh up the benefits of maintain the fantasy against the day that their child discovers Father Christmas does not exist,” said Dr. Breen.
Since there’s no scientific research indicating that believing in Santa can be helpful or harmful to kids, we must remember that kids are also individual human beings.
At an early age, we must practice to give them the right to choose and decide that will be beneficial to them as they get older. Kids will believe in what they want to believe in. As parents, we can only guide and help them by telling the truth.
At the end of the day, kids will believe not much on what you say but on what you do. As David J. Schwartz said in his book The Magic of Getting What You Want, “The most important influence on a child is the parents. It is their example, their attitudes that must ultimately shape, often forever, the attitudes and performance of their children.”
Originally published at Baby On Board November 2012 with minor edits