Encounter with reality: children's reactions on discovering the Santa Claus myth

Child Psychiatry Hum Dev. 1994 Winter;25(2):67-84. doi: 10.1007/BF02253287.


Fifty-two children who no longer believed in Santa Claus were individually administered a structured interview on their reactions to discovering the truth. Their parents completed a questionnaire assessing their initial encouragement of the child to believe in Santa and rating their child's reactions to discovering the truth as well as their own reactions to the child's discovery. Parental encouragement for the child to believe was very strong. Children generally discovered the truth on their own at age seven. Children reported predominantly positive reactions on learning the truth. Parents, however, described themselves as predominantly sad in reaction to their child's discovery.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Child
  • Child Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Folklore*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Parents / psychology
  • Truth Disclosure*