The Christmas extravaganza is officially in full sway. Children are watching their favoured holiday films on repeat, opening their advent calendars and counting down the days until Santa comes.
But the charm doesn’t last forever, because as your children get older, they only become more curious, asking questions like how does Father Christmas deliver all of the gifts in one night? And why does their sister get more playthings than them?
Ultimately, you might find yourself wondering when you should tell them the truth about Santa and what’s the best way to go about it without them feeling like they can’t trust you anymore.
A news outlet spoke with child psychologist Dr Amanda Gummer from Dr Gummer’s Good Play Guide, to find out the best age to drop the bombshell.
Dr Gummer said that a good time to tell your children the truth was around year six before they go into secondary school, which is about the age of 10-11, but this depends on the child.
Dr Gummer explained that numerous parents feel that sending children to secondary school still believing may lead to bullying, so the Christmas of year six is a good time if they still believe then.
Other than that, it’s about when the children start quizzing about it and you’d have to fib outright to them to keep them believing and Dr Gummer also warns about the perils of constantly fibbing to your children about Santa Claus.
She explained that it’s essential that your children trust you and believe what you tell them, so if you keep the tale going for too long, there’s a danger that you’ll damage your credibility with them which can be damaging for your relationship as they get older.
And that if you’re intending on telling your children the truth, there are a few ways to approach the matter sensitively.
Dr Gummer recommends that you wait until they ask and then ask them what they believe.
She continued that it’s easier to confirm suspicions they already have than break the news to them out of the blue, but be sure to tell them that the messages of Christmas, like understanding and being caring, are all still viable.
She continued that you can lighten it by telling them that you still believe it’s a wonderful time of the year and you can try explaining that growing children need to learn lessons about being good and kind and Santa is a way of helping them learn those lessons in a fun way.
But don’t forget we also tell our children that the stork delivers the baby’s, that some children are born under the gooseberry bush, and then there’s the tooth fairy et cetera, but perhaps it’s child psychologists that cause children more harm than Santa.
And is it healthy to undermine children, telling them that Santa is real? Why don’t we just gaslight our children before they have a chance to establish what’s real and what isn’t and then pay them off later on with selection boxes, reinforcing them that believing fabrications are to be rewarded?
I told my children that Santa was only the face of Christmas and that he doesn’t really bring gifts as people say and that the gifts came from their mother. It meant more to them that they knew the gifts came from me, rather than a fictional man swathed in a red suit.
Father Christmas should be nothing more than a token of festivity.
I can’t stand Christmas now, but I do remember many families with their merriment and delight, with presents and love, and we’re not all seriously damaged as adults because our parents said that Santa was real.
And when I think of psychologists, bar humbug springs to mind – scrooge or grinch. Someone needs a big hug.