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Why do children believe in Santa Claus?


At Christmas, mothers and fathers put on a big show about a character that doesn't exist - and fib to their children. But they give it back, says a Santa Claus expert.

Enlarge image

Guaranteed to really exist: this Santa Claus (symbol image)

Photo: Wavebreak Media / IMAGO

For many families with small children, the man in the red coat and white beard is a natural part of Christmas - although he is of course a fictional character.

But why do boys and girls who are otherwise difficult to fool readily believe in Santa Claus or, in some regions, in the Christ Child?

The psychologist Rohan Kapitany, who researches at the English Keele University, has devoted himself to this question.

He's kind of a Santa Claus expert.

According to him, several factors play a major role in belief in Santa Claus and similar figures. First, children rely heavily on their parents to develop an understanding of the world around them.

"We forget that it is psychologically challenging to be a child, as there are many experiences that they experience for the first time," he told the dpa news agency.

In terms of evolutionary biology, it makes sense to rely on the experiences of parents and other people close to them.

After all, they would have proven to be relatively successful by reaching adulthood.

Kapitany particularly emphasizes, however, that it is the great effort that the parents put into the Christmas ritual that makes the story appear believable.

"What makes Christmas and Santa Claus so compelling is all the rituals and behaviors," said the Australian-born researcher.

This includes setting up the Christmas tree under which Santa Claus or the Christ Child then put the presents;

or the socks that some families hang on the fireplace.

"If Santa Claus didn't exist, why would we do that?" Kapitany explains the children's way of thinking.

Santa belief ends at about seven

Some parents feel guilty at the thought of fooling their children like that.

But they're not the only ones fibbing about the Santa Claus ritual.

According to Kapitany, there's research showing that kids are pretty good at convincing their parents that they still believe in Santa Claus, when they no longer do.

On average, children lose faith in Santa Claus between the ages of seven and seven and a half.

But the prospect of not receiving any more gifts initially puts some people off telling their parents about it.

In general, the moment when the belief in the magic of Christmas is lost does not have to be traumatic or hurtful for children, says Kapitany: "Studies show that parents are usually sadder and more disappointed than children because it represents a transition in the child's life. «


Source: spiegel

All life articles on 2022-12-22

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