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Believing in Santa

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: My six-year-old still believes in Santa Claus. I'd like to break the news before she finds out from her friends. At the same time, I hate to tell her before I really have to! When is the right time?

A: I believe all children have the right to be fascinated and enchanted by the nurturing, age-old myths and fables of their culture. Santa Claus, and yes, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy engage a young child's sense of wonder.

You don't need to take her mythic belief in Santa away now to protect her from others telling her first. Your responsibility in this matter is to abide with her when her fantasies and myths grudgingly give way to more mature, confusing realities.

Through natural child development, most kids will surrender the Santa myth by age 9 or 10. Let her continue her enchantment. It's only this pure once. She'll let you know when she needs your help to navigate the waters from childhood fantasies to adult realities.

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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


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