There are many parents who, when Christmas comes, they wonder if it is good for their children to grow up deceived, thinking that Santa Claus exist.
Perhaps the change is to stop seeing it as a deception and not as a way to stimulate their imagination before they have to start to face the stark reality.
We explain why it is good and worthwhile to continue with this magical tradition.
If we look at how children play, we see how they make up stories, stories with imaginary beings that often become their own reality, as is the case of invisible friends.
Magic traditions only come to foment that illusion intrinsic to childhood which in many cases, when we grow up, we lose. Children gain a progressive understanding of reality as they grow up. Magic and illusion only prevents that understanding of reality from being sudden and shocking. With these stories, like Disney’s stories and movies, they gradually understand the world.
Even around the age of 5, children are dominated by magical thinking, making it difficult for them to distinguish fantasy from reality.
- Between 1 and 4 years old, camels and even the Three Wise Men are perceived as a reality. They are not yet ready to understand abstract concepts.
- From ages 4 to 6, children may begin to wonder if the Magi are real.
- Between the ages of 6 and 8, they are prepared to understand that Santa Claus is not real, or at least not in the strict sense.
- The ability to think abstractly develops normally between the ages of 7 and 14.
Lie or Fantasy?
There are those who think that lying to children is not an example of positive educational values, and that feeding this belief is not preparing them for the harsh reality of life (the children’s unformed brain and personality are not prepared for the harsh reality of life, it has to be said). There are also those who believe that children who believe in Santa Claus will not show gratitude to those who are really giving them gifts. But the truth is that most parents use this tradition and these magical beings as blackmail to achieve the good behavior of their children, which implies an argument of values by which children learn that, in order to achieve the things they want, they need to make an effort and sacrifice. On the other hand, supporters of Santa Claus (aka Santa Claus) argue that only the memory of the sweetness of their childhood prompts them to transmit this mythology.
The fact is that lying ruthlessly is very ugly and to some extent even disrespectful. But as the wonderful Roberto Benigni taught us in his film “Life Is Beautiful”, not saying “the whole truth” is also understandable when parents want to avoid suffering their children.
So, more than a lie, Santa Claus and The Three Kings have become a belief and ritual transmitted from the elders to the little ones. One only has to observe the complicity that is created with adults when a child suddenly realizes that they do not exist, but wants to do everything possible so that the youngest continue to believe. That’s when they understand that they have grown up and are becoming part of the adult world.
The time to tell
Undoubtedly, this is a precious and magical tradition that keeps children (and parents) excited during their first years of life but, sooner or later, they will have to discover that these characters do not exist and that Santa Claus and the Three Kings are mommies and daddies.
We can choose to tell them ourselves or wait for them to find out at school because a colleague tells them. But in both cases, it’s good to be prepared. The ideal would be to have an explanation prepared so that, if you happen to cry, you know how to calm your child.
However, everything depends on the relationship you have built with them around this tradition. It is yet another familiar tool for building relationships and bonds between young children and their parents.
According to Laura Aut, although at first discovering that the Kings or Santa Claus are the parents may be frustrating, the children will not take it as a lie, but they will live it as a fantasy that for all the time in which they have believed has provoked enthusiasm and has made them live very special moments. In any case, the psychologist reminds us that “we must not forget that frustration is not something negative, but quite the opposite; knowing how to tolerate is something that will favor them as adults”.
In short, what is important for a child is not only the belief or non-belief in these magical characters, but the values that accompany these figures and the message that their parents want to convey when they make them believe in them. The main thing is that children believe in their dreams and live relatively carefree so that they can grow up with a sense of security without fearing the world that awaits them.