Posted by & filed under Child Development, Early Social and Emotional development, General Psychology, Human Development.

Description: A seasonal question: at what point if ever should you tell your children the truth about Santa? Well, as any good developmental psychologist should, I am going to tell you to have a look at what the data says and the article linked below provides a number of things to think about in relation to this age old question. Think about what YOU think and try to link your thoughts to what you may know about children and child development (not just what you wish were true or are afraid might be true) and then read through the article.

Source: Lies about Santa? They could be good for you, Kristen Dunfield (Concordia University) The Conversation, Culture and Society.

Date: December 11, 2017

Photo Credit:  Shutterstock

Links:  Article Link –

Were any of your hypotheses or fears covered by research or theory from developmental psychology?  The data is pretty clear, children are not harmed by believing in Santa and, in fact seem to benefit from doing so developmentally. Parents can play along but they can also adjust their interactions (as they always should) to their children’s developmental level as reflected in the questions their children are asking. Again as always, address the questions actually being asked by the child, focus on what they really want to now not what you might think they should know. Let their developmental curiosity be your response guide.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. So, should parents tell their children about Santa at some age? And if so at what age?
  2. Are there positive outcomes from believing in Santa?
  3. What advice would you offer parents of children at 4, 6 and 8 years of age with regards to how to talk about Santa?

References (Read Further):

Shtulman, A., & Yoo, R. I. (2015). Children’s understanding of physical possibility constrains their belief in Santa Claus. Cognitive Development, 34, 51-62.

Prentice, N. M., Manosevitz, M., & Hubbs, L. (1978). Imaginary figures of early childhood: santa claus, easter bunny, and the tooth fairy. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 48(4), 618.

Anderson, C. J., & Prentice, N. M. (1994). Encounter with reality: children’s reactions on discovering the Santa Claus myth. Child Psychiatry & Human Development, 25(2), 67-84.

Corriveau, K. H., Harris, P. L., Meins, E., Fernyhough, C., Arnott, B., Elliott, L., … & De Rosnay, M. (2009). Young children’s trust in their mother’s claims: Longitudinal links with attachment security in infancy. Child development, 80(3), 750-761.

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