Handling Questions about the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny — and Santa Claus

Handling Questions about the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny — and Santa Claus

When and how to let a child in on the truth about the magical characters in his or her life can be a controversial topic – even within the same family.

Some grownups would pick a specific age at which the truth is revealed with the bluntness of tearing off a Band-Aid. Others never actually acknowledge the question, encouraging the myth until the older child has to ask them to stop.

The wonderment of Santa Claus and other magical characters comes from a specific developmental process in young children – typically ages 2-7. Their limited experience in the world isn’t enough to explain everything they observe; and their brains haven’t developed a clearly defined boundary between real and pretend.

So understanding what they hear and see sometimes gets infused with seemingly nonsensical explanations from their imagination – what developmental psychologists call Magical Thinking. It’s the reason a man in a red suit who lives in the North Pole can manage to leave gifts for all the children of the world in a single night.

Read the whole article for some ideas to make the magic of Santa, the Easter Bunny and other magical characters last long after your child has figured out how things really work.

The Hanna Perkins Center for Child Development helps children understand and manage their feelings for success in school and life; and works with parents and child-facing professionals to do the same. Services include a preschool and state-chartered kindergarten, a classroom for young children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, mental health clinic for children and adolescents, and outreach/training for early childhood educators and other professionals.

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