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  • Writer's picturestamatelospsychologist

Is there a Santa Claus? Dos and don'ts to tell kids about their imaginary friend

Updated: Dec 28, 2022

According to K. Christou (2022) who wrote on the daily website "kathimerini" every year children in Italy wait for Epiphany day to see if the old witch named Befana will leave them gifts or... coals in their Christmas stocking in case they were bad kids.

Similarly, children in Poland are asked to "take care" of a painted log from December 8 so that it reveals the gifts to them. However, most children around the world, every year at this time continue to wait for the Santa Claus that we all love and remember as the good-natured grandfather with the red clothes and the white beard.

Unfortunately, many times the feeling that follows Santa Claus or La Befana is not anticipation but confirmation of correct behavior. This myth of the "good child" associated with gifts, and the "bad child" who gets coal or even... nothing, is the "nightmare" of the little ones and the childhood "trauma" of the adults.

At the same time, this anticipation of the imaginary friend (which in many cases takes on the flesh and blood of the parents) opens up a discussion about the limits of truth and lies, good and evil. "It is generally wrong for parents to call their child good or bad. There is no such thing as a bad or a good child, there are good or bad deeds and it is preferable for parents to maintain this attitude in general", says psychologist-child psychologist Antigoni Ginopoulou speaking to "K.

She describes as problematic the fact that Santa Claus often appears as a punisher. "Santa Claus is a dear person. However, many times parents use other persons in order to "threaten" their children, such as Santa Claus, an evil witch or something else", underlines Ms. Ginopoulou, stressing that the parent should be the one to impose the punishment to his child and not someone else, let alone imaginary. The general attitude of child psychologists is that Santa Claus is a person who gives love only.