We all believed in Santa at one point in our lives. Santa is part of the magic of Christmas, especially for the younger children. Who can forget those visits to Santa’s Grotto in a local department store during childhood? The snow, the fairy lights, the reindeer and, at the end of it all, the jolly laughing man dressed in red and sporting a long white beard. The wonder and amazement is part of childhood and will usually become one of our treasured memories of childhood.
So, how long should we keep the kids believing in Santa and to what lengths should we go to keep up the pretence? As parents we enjoy the delight of our little ones when they talk about Santa and seeing their faces light up when they come face to face with the man himself is one of the pleasures of the festive season.
My youngest daughter carried on believing for quite some time. She was quite sharp and had a great memory when she was young – I used to buy separate wrapping paper to wrap the Santa presents and went to great lengths to keep it well hidden from her when wrapping all the gifts for friends and family. However, she caught me out one year when I used the previous year’s “Santa paper” to wrap presents for friends. The cat was well and truly out of the bag and that was how she found out that Santa doesn’t really exist!
Most experts agree that there’s no need to tell the kids the truth about Santa – that they will figure it out for themselves. There’s no particular age when they should stop believing – it all depends on the individual child.
Small children have a natural ability to think magically and will readily accept the Santa Claus story. It’s a great way of making Christmas more fun for both children and their parents. Kids should be allowed to believe in Santa for as long as they want to and some will believe for longer than others.
However, there does eventually come a transition stage when they start to work it out for themselves, they hear about the truth from other kids, suspect that Santa is not really ‘real’, but may still want to believe. This is known as Santa Doubt and is a natural part of the transition from believing to not believing (this will also happen with the Tooth Fairy).
Telling the children the cold, hard truth about Santa Claus can put a damper on their Christmas excitement – it may shatter their illusions and spoil the festive season. So, let them carry on believing (or half-believing) for as long as they want. It won’t cause any harm and they all get there eventually. After all, how many adults do you know who still believe in Santa Claus?