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WebMD archives content after 2 years to ensure our readers can easily find the most timely content. This year, Mikio plans to write a letter to Santa Claus, as he's done since he can remember, and leave his North Pole visitor some milk and cookies. Mikio is one of millions of children who eagerly anticipate the jolly old soul's magical trip around the world. Every December, kids hear the story of a red-clad, robust man who enters homes through chimneys and doles out gifts to well-behaved youngsters.
No doubt the tale has generated excitement in many households. A brief review of comments from some online message boards, however, reveals that the Santa notion also elicits its share of cringes:. The child that gets told Santa loves and gives to everybody will wonder what is wrong with them. Roberto, a San Francisco Bay-area father, says family and friends have already told his 2-year-old daughter about Santa Claus. Yet he does not plan to further promote the story because the consumerism produced by the holidays bothers him.
The year-old father says he won't stop his daughter from believing in Santa Claus if she chooses to, but he wants her to know that holidays can be engineered to encourage spending. Instead of focusing on Santa Claus during the holidays, he says he will encourage his daughter to cherish family time. Any thought of hooking Santa Claus away from the holiday stage is enough to make some parents roll their eyes or throw up their hands in outrage. Like-minded mothers and fathers say they would never deny their kids the joy brought on by belief in Kris Kringle. There are those who declare that Christmas wouldn't be the same without good ole St.
Who's right and who's wrong? Could the Santa Claus tale actually hurt kids? Or is it harmless fun? WebMD placed Santa on the naughty or nice checklist and asked child psychology and development experts what they thought about the twinkle-eyed gent. Small studies from the United States and Canada suggest that virtually all children know about Santa Claus, even if they do not view him as a real person.
A ificant percentage of believers discovered the truth behind the tale around age 7. Only half of kids aged 8 to 11 reported believing in Santa. When they did find out the truth, most of them reacted in a positive manner. Two out of three kids said they felt a sense of pride in figuring out the truth about Santa Claus.
Half of them said that although the jolly guy was not real, they liked the idea of him. Yet there are also various anecdotal reports on Internet chat boards about how the truth has disillusioned or even traumatized people. One mother said she was greatly disappointed when she realized who Santa was, but was more upset that her parents "forced" her to perpetuate the "lie. Shari Kuchenbecker, PhD, a research psychologist and author of Raising Winners , says when her children were young, she told them Santa Claus was a symbol of loving, giving, and hope. That doesn't mean being explicit beyond what wants to know," says Kuchenbecker.
To prove her point, she shares a story of a little girl who asks her mother what " sex " is. The flustered parent tries her best to explain the meaning of the word to her daughter, but at the end of the long lecture, the girl says she simply wanted to know what the difference was between males and females.
Children are apparently good at picking up what they need to know at the appropriate time. When they are ready to learn, it's a good idea for parents to be available as a resource. Parents who strongly believe that they are betraying their children's trust by sharing the Santa Claus tale probably do not need to tell them the story, says Robert Feldman, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, who has conducted extensive research on lying and deception. Keep in mind, though, that in the overall scale of deception, propagating the Santa myth is no worse than saying things like "You look terrific," or "You haven't gained weight," or "What a great dress," says Feldman, noting that people generally use lies as a social crutch.
For example, he says parents often ask their children to pretend they like gifts from relatives to spare the feelings of family members. Children are also resilient and can usually overcome any negative feelings related to discovering the real Santa. Very young children live in an imaginary world, and that world is reality for them. At ages 1 through 4, children can comprehend tangible things such as sleigh, reindeer, and Santa Claus as a real person, Kramer explains. These kids cannot yet grasp abstract concepts. At 4 to 6 years old, Kramer says children may begin questioning whether Santa Claus is a real person.
It is not until kids are about 6 to 8 that they may be ready to understand that Santa Claus is real, but not in a concrete sense. Their ability to think abstractly begins developing at this time and continues on until they are about 14 years old.
In all ages, a good imagination is important, but it's crucial for very young children. They simply cannot do without a good fantasy life, says Carolyn Saarni, PhD, a developmental psychologist and professor of counseling at Sonoma State University in California. Play allows you to kind of practice what you would do in the real world.
A little girl who is playing with a doll, for instance, may try to imitate her mother's nurturing ways. In her pretend world, she is practicing what she would do in certain situations. There is no scientific research indicating the Santa tale can be helpful or harmful to kids, says Howe. So when her students who are parents ask her whether or not they should promote the Santa tale, she simply responds, "It's a personal choice.
Whatever choice you make, I don't think it's going to harm your child. Pregnancy Feature Stories. A brief review of comments from some online message boards, however, reveals that the Santa notion also elicits its share of cringes: "I will never teach my children about the myth of Santa, because he is not the reason we celebrate Christmas.
Continued Any thought of hooking Santa Claus away from the holiday stage is enough to make some parents roll their eyes or throw up their hands in outrage. The Jury on Santa Small studies from the United States and Canada suggest that virtually all children know about Santa Claus, even if they do not view him as a real person. Continued Shari Kuchenbecker, PhD, a research psychologist and author of Raising Winners , says when her children were young, she told them Santa Claus was a symbol of loving, giving, and hope.
Continued Children's Fantasy World Very young children live in an imaginary world, and that world is reality for them. Could I have CAD? Missing Teeth?Santa said i was naughty so
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Santa Claus: Naughty or Nice?