Santa or No Santa? The difference between reality and fantasy

In my line of work, fantasy and imaginative play forms a vital part in the child‰Ûªs social and emotional development, helping the child to resolve issues. When a child is in a state of anxiety, fear or sadness they will create a fantasy in order to get through it.

Christmas holidays are a very exciting time for a child. The opening of presents; going on holiday; family traditions and of course seeing Santa Claus.

Try to keep the imagination flowing, especially between the ages 3 and 6. Imagination will bring on the creativity of the child which can benefit the child academically as well. This in turn allows the child to ‰ÛÏexperience‰Û or visualise different alternatives to a problem situation. For example, by experiencing or trying out different methods to get to a result to a maths problem or resolving a social conflict. Broadening the child‰Ûªs creative side or make-belief allows them to experience more results or successes in their life.

Let them make-believe in Santa Claus.

For children aged between 7 and 9 years of age, their cognitive processes become more abstract and realistic. This is when scepticism creeps in and they start to realise that Santa Claus isn‰Ûªt real. However, children of this age still remain engaged in the fantasy world and imagination by using dancing, acting or playing out different scenarios.

When the child heads towards their teenage years fantasy and imagination plays a lesser role in their lives. Their creative abilities are still expressed through art, poems, songs or acting. It is still important to remember that a teenager does need a bit of an escape into the fantasy world from their stressful day, i.e.: reading a book, watching a movie, writing a diary or a poem, listening to music.

A common question asked: When do I tell my child that Santa Claus isn‰Ûªt real?

Well, although the above was promoting the fantasy and imagination, we as parents also need to help the child to be able to distinguish between reality and fantasy. So there comes a time where ‰ÛÏpretending‰Û is ok as long as the child still understands that what is done in the pretend world may not necessarily be able to be done in the real world.

When faced with the question, try and get a sense of whether the child wants reassurance or the truth; obviously looking at the age of the child. Ultimately, what you tell your child depends on your belief system, traditions and values.

It is not all that bad for us adults to take in mind that we too need to ‰ÛÏescape‰Û from the real world to help us manage our stressful lives.

Happy Holidays! Meet up again in the New Year.

Tip: Parents try and encourage the idea that these holidays are a time for giving and we can all get involved by learning to give to others who have less.

That it‰Ûªs not only Santa who gives, but us too!