Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-568f69f84b-tcbk7 Total loading time: 0.228 Render date: 2021-09-19T07:38:54.693Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

What if Santa died? Childhood myths and development

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2018

Lynda Breen*
Affiliation:
Dewi Jones Unit, Alder Hey Hospital, Eaton Road, West Derby, Liverpool LI2 2AP. E-mail: lyndabreen@blueyonder.co.uk
Rights & Permissions[Opens in a new window]

Extract

HTML view is not available for this content. However, as you have access to this content, a full PDF is available via the ‘Save PDF’ action button.

Disenchantment with Santa Claus is a rite of passage that usually signals the adoption of an adult-defined reality. The ethics of the custom, which has been described as misleading, have recently been debated and there are suggestions that it is less well maintained than in previous years. This short article explores some of the sociocognitive benefits of promoting the Santa Claus tale and its associated customs. Sociological theories suggest benefits in family bonding and pro-social behaviour, including sharing. Cognitive theories describe enhanced fantastical thinking, expansion of the internal object world and purposeful play. Children may draw parallels between Santa Claus and God, although there is no current evidence that finding out he does not exist impairs their subsequent capacity for religious faith. Whether or not the fable is a threat to the child's trust is to be decided by each parent. On balance, the tale of Santa Claus is a powerful tool that may serve to nurture social and cognitive development, particularly in a technological society where children mature earlier.

Type
Special Articles
Creative Commons
Creative Common License - CCCreative Common License - BY
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Copyright
Copyright © 2004. The Royal College of Psychiatrists.

References

Barrington, A. (1997) The Truth about Santa Claus. Chicago, IL: Genesis communications Inc.Google Scholar
Clark, C. D. (1995) Flights of Fancy, Leaps of Faith. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
Cox, M. (1991) The Child's Point of View. London: Harvester Wheatsheaf.Google Scholar
Malim, T. & Birch, A. (1998) Cognitive Development. In Introductory Psychology (First Edition, pp. 428478). London: Macmillan press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mayes, L. C. & Cohen, D. J. (1992) The development of a capacity for imagination in early childhood. Psycho-analytic Study of Children, 47, 2347.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Meyer, R. (1997) The Wisdom of Fairy Tales. Edinburgh: Floris Books.Google Scholar
Nolte, D. L. (1998) Children Learn What They Live. New York: Workman Publishing.Google Scholar
Piaget, J. & Inhelder, B. (1969) The Psychology of the Child. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.Google ScholarPubMed
Polakow, V. (1992) The Erosion of Childhood. Chicago: University of Chicago press.Google Scholar
Prentice, N. (1978) Imaginary figures of early childhood: Santa Claus, Easter bunny, and the tooth fairy. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 48, 618626.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Submit a response

eLetters

No eLetters have been published for this article.
You have Access
Open access
3
Cited by

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

What if Santa died? Childhood myths and development
Available formats
×

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

What if Santa died? Childhood myths and development
Available formats
×

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

What if Santa died? Childhood myths and development
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *