When we are young, everything about the world seems magical, fresh and new. From birthdays and the first days at school, to making new friends and the wonderful world of the imaginary and make-believe.
Christmas time is no different for a young mind. Filled with sparkling decorations and present giving, it is one of the most enchanting and special times of the year, but what do you do when your children start asking you questions like ‘Is Santa Real?’
There are a few things to consider before you open your mouth to reply to them which we’ll discuss in this article.
Their Age Matters – A Lot
The age of your child will influence your answer greatly, and part of you might want to keep that magic alive and their youth and innocence preserved for as long as possible. There’s nothing wrong with that, but you also have to balance that with being truthful or causing them emotional harm when their perception of Christmas and Santa is forced to be changed by your honest answer.
For young children under the age of around 6, it’s typically agreed that you can make such a child very happy and give them excitement and an incentive to behave in the run up to Christmas by telling them that Santa is in fact real.
Cast your mind back to your own childhood and think how happy you were as a child in blissful ignorance of the fact Santa existed, getting photos taken with Santa and his elves and receiving your present.
7 & 8 Year Olds
At age 7 or 8, then your child may be discussing the existence of Santa with their school friends. If you tell them that it is a fable, they may very well repeat the same to those children whose parents haven’t disclose that fact yet.
The truth of Santa often gets discovered at this tender age, and they may even feel a sense of superiority that they’ve sussed it out and are no longer just blindly believing. But it’s a case for each individual child, and where you think they are on that journey of discerning reality from falsehoods.
9 & 10 Year Olds
After the age of 9, most children will have already realised that Santa is not real from conversations with their peers or other adults. At this age they are probably better equipped to handle the truth then too, even though they may retain childish innocence.
You can get the measure of why they are asking with a question to them back such as ‘Why do you want to know?’ or ‘Well, what do you think?’ – and then you can guide your own answer from there.
After age 10, even though they know the truth, it can be that they still want to hold onto the excitement and joy they experienced as a younger child, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It can even be used by them indirectly to declare what they want without asking the parents, ‘I hope Santa brings me a new PlayStation’.
To Lie Or Not To Lie
Nobody likes to lie to their children, and when you do so – even with a white lie such as that Santa exists – you can feel a sense of guilt which doesn’t sit right with you. This is most likely to occur when the child is older rather than when they are young and naïve
Here’s where you can balance the truth with the magic of Christmas and still keep those happy memories you shared together, or the smile on their face on Christmas morning after ‘Santa’ has been, with the milk and cookie half eaten.
You can tell them that St. Nick was a real person who did used to leave children presents at this time of year. You can even go onto say that this spirit of generosity still lives on today, and you should try to emulate that as a family.
You could even try to gauge the attitude of your child when they are asking, and make a judgement call then and there, that you fully intend to rectify when they grow up a bit more. Ask them what they would feel like if he wasn’t real.
Some children might simply lose interest as they age, and won’t hold it against you for withholding the truth, as they want to retain those special Christmas memories.
If you have told them the truth, it is probably wise to urge them not to tell others in their age group who may not know yet, as it is usually a parent’s prerogative of when to tell them.
Top Tips When Dealing With The Santa Question
Sometimes we might lie to prevent a sorrowful heart, but realise that it is a healthy part of development for them to understand the world is not as magical as they believe.
Tell them that even though they know in their mind Santa is not real, that they can still partake in the fun and excitement that comes with it, such as putting a carrot out for Rudolph.
Explain to them that you wanted to preserve the magic of their childhood, like your parents did for you, and their parents before them, and like they will for their own children.
Don’t go overboard and divulge lots of other ‘home truths’. It’s fine to say that Santa is not real, but you don’t need to tell them about the Tooth Fairy, or that the dog didn’t really go to a farm!
Remember that it is their life experience that you are changing, and it’s not so much about you and what you believe anymore. Try to get inside their head and level with them with discernment.
So, there you have it! As the Christmas season approaches rapidly, now you have a full armoury to deal with any questions from your youngsters where Santa, his flying reindeers, elves and the North Pole are concerned.
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