November 24, 2019

Have you ever wondered when should you tell kids the truth about Santa? Psychologist reveals age you should break the news.

Psychologist and parenting expert Dr Justin Coulson spoke to Daily Mail Australia about the controversial subject – and revealed when we should be telling our children the truth.

He said: “In my experience, kids get curious between the ages of five and seven.

“It’s a constant topic of conversation and like anything that’s supposed to be a secret: Knowledge is power.”

So if our little boys or girls come home from school, look up at us with those sad eyes and ask: “[Is Rudolph his favourite reindeer]? Ben in my class says he’s not,” how should we respond?

When Is the Right Time?

Dr Coulson says: “The right time to tell your child is as soon as they ask.

“If they’re old enough and curious enough to question, then they’re old enough to know the truth.”

“Once they get old enough to start to ask about Santa’s reality, ask them what prompted their questions. Encourage them to think critically. Can one guy really fly around the entire world and deliver that many gifts in one night? Has anyone ever seen a flying reindeer? How is anyone going to get down the chimney – really?”

“Have fun with it. Then ask them why you think you’ve encouraged them to believe in Santa. (Hint… it’s because you love them and want to give them special treats.)” Read more here.

Debunking The Myths

Dr Coulston debunks the most common myths around why we should lie to our children about Santa.

“First, parents say “oh, it’s going to spoil the magic of Christmas if they know the truth”. My response: Bunkum!”

“Can you watch a movie and enjoy it even though you know it’s not true? Or read a novel and enjoy it while knowing it’s fiction? Of course. Kids role play, enjoy make-believe games, and have imaginary friends and this enhances their wellbeing and their lives.”

“Second, parents say, “but it won’t be as exciting on Christmas morning.” Ummm, your kids are getting gifts. They’re going to be excited. Guaranteed.”

“Third, parents worry that if their kids know Santa is a myth, they’ll lose power over them. The kids will play up because Santa isn’t real. Are you really going to be that much of a Scrooge at Christmas that you’re going to give gifts based on the naughty/nice list?” Read more here.

Well, my youngest son will be 10 in February and he still happily plays along with the magic of Christmas.  He is currently sitting on the fence and I am definitely not about to push him either way! Let them enjoy the innocence of it for as long as possible.

How old was your child when they stopped believing in Santa?

Share your comments below

  • Both of mine still believe, but I think this will be my daughters last as I think she has cottoned on

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  • this is good to know

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  • I love these discussion points to get kids thinking about Santa. Let the magic live on for as long as it can I say. It’s a wonderful time of the year!

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  • My son was 10. He had posed questions and I’d asked him to consider what he thought, but we kept the Christmas magic alive until he was 10. No regrets.

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  • I never lied to my kids either about this. Just like the topic sex I believe we just should answer their questions in language they understand when they come up with it.

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  • I agree completely with that psychologist. I never lied to my three but they enjoyed Christmas and Santa just as much as their friends. The can believe ands not believe at the same time. More important to me was that I wanted my kids to know I did not lie to them.

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  • It depends on the age of the child and how many more little ones are behind the first child, I guess. And of course children love to go along with the Santa theme so they make sure they get some lovely Christmas gifts. Think my eldest was about 7 when he knew ‘for sure’ but he happily played along till about 15 so his younger brother [7 years younger] would still enjoy the ‘magic’ of Christmas.

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  • My children were about 10 when they worked it out, but I still didn’t say Santa wasn’t real. I told them if you believe he will come, if you don’t he won’t. They both know he’s not real but they aren’t stupid so they go along with it. (Not with their mates though) lol. I say keep the innocence as long as possible.

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  • I told my eldest son when he started high school so this is his 2nd Christmas knowing the truth. He goes along with it for my other 3 children aged 11, 9 and 5. “Santa” still comes to him. It made him realise how much money and effort goes into Christmas and appreciates it so much more now. I told him starting year 7 because I didn’t want him to be picked on for still believing. I like that my other children still believe because I get excited for their excitement.

    Reply

  • I disagree with this. This is a big part of the childhood innocence and you spend so many years having to deal with adult issues that for a few years let them be kids!

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  • My kids at 6 and 8 and still believe and I will let them as long as I can

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  • It’s very individual. But if my 4 year old was to ask me now, I wouldn’t tell her that he isn’t real. Keep the magic going as long as possible.

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  • I think it should be up to the individual and let your child guide you. You’ll know from reactions, questions and that’s completely fine. I won’t be telling my babies until they ask, or tell me they don’t believe.

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  • Interesting article have wondered this for a while

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  • MY son is 18mths old, I love Christmas and go all out- however I am still unsure how we will approach the Santa thing, I don’t think we will be telling our kids that he brings gifts, I think more so we will be telling them that he comes and brings cheer and good will etc. it’s so hard and I had such a bad and disappointing experience with it all as a kid. I don’t feel okay lying to them about it


    • My daughter knows Santa isn’t real. She is 4 and asked a while ago. I have explained that they are ‘Helpers’ so other people can get excited about Christmas and have some fun and the helpers like to dress up, too!

    Reply

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