Is the Santa Claus Myth Positive for Children’s Development?
It is that time of year again. The holiday season is just around the corner.
Christmas lights have begun to appear, festive songs are coming up on the radio, and Santa Claus is coming to town! Or not?
More and more parents nowadays face the dilemma, “Should I tell my children that the Santa story is not true or should I let them believe in the tale?”
Why is there a dilemma?
Many parents agree that it is not correct to tell their kids that Santa Claus exists. They think that by allowing them to believe in the Santa myth, they are lying to them. Parents most often raise their children with specific values and by no means would want to let these values collapse. More than that, they presume that revealing the truth can negatively affect their children’s psychology.
On the other hand, some families believe that the Santa Claus myth is a magical story that can teach their children the importance of helping and giving. Also, because the tale is part of their culture and traditions, they simply prefer keeping it alive for generations to come.
At UNGA, we love kids and we want them to develop a personality that will positively contribute to their future self. Therefore, we believe that it is our responsibility to let people know that continuing to tell this story to kids is not damaging for them while they are growing up. In fact, it can be very beneficial.
The Santa Claus myth: A positive relation with imagination
Contrary to the belief that the Santa tale can be harmful to children, a group of psychologists and psychiatrists have established a theory that the myth can be healthy for their growth. They explain that believing in a mythical figure is part of a child’s imagination. As Dr. Matthew Lorber, a child psychiatrist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, explains, imagination is a significant component of people’s childhood and leads to the healthy development of their character.
Kids should be free to imagine. It helps them enhance their creative minds. Studies have shown that some of the most influential people of all times had a very active imagination and high creativity levels. For instance, renowned writers, scientists or inventors and Nobel Prize winners—like Albert Einstein—were those who let their imagination and creative minds run wild.
Moreover, imagination and play go hand in hand. The previously mentioned renowned people not only developed their imagination levels but also played a lot when they were kids. For example, many individuals who played with building blocks as kids later excelled in subjects like science and engineering (learn more here) or even decided to carry their childhood with them by becoming architects.
The power of play and imagination on the development of a personality
When parents encourage kids to set their imagination free, the latter can, in fact, develop different aspects of themselves. Certainly, imagination can boost their linguistic and thinking skills. Children, especially when playing with others or when making an imaginary friend, inevitably start experimenting with their vocabulary. They repeat words they hear and learn every day; they make mistakes and come up with creative solutions to problems. The Santa Claus myth can boost their language capacity as many children are often excited to send Santa a letter. It becomes the perfect chance to write something out of the structured school environment.
Imagination also contributes to their social development. Kids interact with others through role play. This kind of interaction unconsciously teaches them how to behave towards different personalities and in various situations. When kids put themselves in a specific role, it enhances their emotional development. Putting themselves in different stories allows them to experience a variety of feelings, which is a healthy way to grow their character. The Santa story teaches them about a character who aims to make kids happy worldwide. As a result, children learn the importance of engaging in good societal actions.
The Santa Claus myth can strengthen family bonds
Christmas time is definitely a period when a family comes closer together. Parents like to spend quality time with their children and telling them stories, including the one about Santa, leads to happy and comforting moments.
Explaining the real story of Saint Nicholas can be an even better way to teach them good values. After all, Saint Nicholas helped the poor by offering them money and gifts. What better a chance to make children learn the importance of generosity, assistance and openness, and inspire them while growing up?
During this time of the year, parents can also help their children write a letter to Santa. This would thereby initiate them into writing as well as actively engage their imagination. It is important to highlight the fact that the letter is not to be only about asking for gifts. Children can describe to Santa how they behaved during the whole year which can stimulate their memory and concentration. They can also decide together on the presents to ask for. Parents can thus influence their decision and lead them to choosing toys that are both playful and educational which can even contribute to some special family moments.
Ultimately, it is up to the parents to decide whether they will reveal to their children that Santa does not exist. What is important for parents to know is that the story of the old man in red and white giving out presents in December cannot harm their children but rather help them grow.