Lifestyle

Here's why telling your children Santa is real could do long-term damage

Mean children shouldn't get coal for Christmas

With Christmas in just two days' time, children around the world will be getting excited about Santa Claus leaving presents under the tree - but should we be telling kids that Santa is real?

We shouldn't be saying to youngsters that Santa is real, according to five Australian experts that include psychologists, teachers and a philosopher.

"Adults should not lie to children about Santa," developmental psychologist Ameneh Shahaeian told The Conversation that parents should tell the children the truth if they ask.

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"When a child asks the question as to whether Santa is real or not, they're already at a developmental stage to distinguish between reality and fictional characters. When children reach this developmental stage, it's not helpful if we lie to them about a fictional character such as Santa.

Rebecca English, a senior education lecturer at the Queensland University of Technology also agreed that children shouldn't be lied to because "you are encouraging your children, usually with made-up proof, to believe a morally ambiguous lie," and added it also asks children to "suspend criticality and believe a fiction."

"I'm not alone in being devastated learning of my parents' elaborate deceit about Santa, leaving me to wonder what other lies they had told," as per The Conversation.

English also noted how Santa is often "used as a stick to foster obedience," as there is nothing that will give children fear like Santa not stopping by with the presents on his sleigh.

"Why defer your authority to an omniscient North-Poler, an interloping elf and colour changing baubles? You bought those presents; you should take the kudos!"

Though one psychologist, Kelly-Ann Allen an associate professor from Monash University disagreed, and provided some benefits as to why children believing in Santa can be a good thing.

"People who engage in rituals around Santa and Christmas are literally memory-making with their children," she said, as per The Conversation.

"They're marking distinct occasions in time to be remembered in the future in a way that helps aid trans-generational family traditions and shared social experiences. Christmas rituals offer an opportunity for social belonging, which builds our social support networks and may even make us feel less lonely."

However, Allen did note that "Lying to your child about Santa at three is very different from lying to your child about Santa at thirty."

She added parents should make their own judgement on what information to share with their kids, or let the youngsters come to their own natural conclusions.

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