The Science Behind Children’s Belief in Santa Claus

“We’re not particularly religious in our house (despite our Catholic roots), but Santa Claus becomes the center of our world every December. To say that my kids are excited about Christmas is an understatement; they are ecstatic. At the ages of 3 and 6, they are at the prime age for belief in Santa Claus. They write him a letter every year and insist on baking him cookies that we set out beside the tree on Christmas Eve, along with a few carrots for his reindeer.”

“When thinking about children’s abilities and how they come to build their beliefs, it actually isn’t so surprising that the Santa story sticks, at least for a little while. In fact, for children between the ages of about 5 and 8, magical thinking is a normal part of everyday life. Indeed, research suggests that children tend to figure out the truth about Santa on their own around this time, and that their reactions are generally quite positive.” (Anderson & Prentice, 1994).

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