Three fictional characters feature predominately in the imaginations of Western childhoods: Santa clause, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny.
According to studies, children begin to question the belief in these characters by the time they reach the age of six. This apparently occurs in part due to the fact that kids at that age are keen observers of inconsistencies. How can Santa enter a house, via dubious means and escape the law, even if his intentions are well meaning. However there appears to be no sudden insight, we don’t wake up one day in our childhoods in total disbelief, the studies suggest the fantasy dissipates gradually when not confronted by evidence.
Children who have experienced an event of sudden realisation often recall moments they would later describe as a minor betrayal. One of our staff here at MiNDFOOD described a time, with amusement, when she found letters she had written to Santa stashed away in her parents study drawer. It took her two years to confront her parents about the evidence.
The study showed that “some 71% of children reported being “happy” about learning the truth, but that “happiness” could be associated with negative feelings – happy their instinct was right, that they now knew about their parent’s deceit.”
Though the effects of the discovery vary from child to child, it is suggested that some thought be given to the delivery of the truth about the “big three – Santa, Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny.”
Lecturer in Genetics at Lincoln University in New Zealand proffers some advice:
“It’s worth spending time peeling off societal and familial filters to uncover your own values about the big three – Easter Bunny, Santa and the Tooth Fairy – and ask whether the deceit really works for your family.”
“This Easter perhaps consider gently giving your children a basketful of honesty about who really supplies the Easter eggs.”