Health Watch – Holiday Time: The Santa Question

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

This week on "Healthwatch," we've been offering a holiday survival guide. Today we'll address one of the trickiest questions a parent faces during the holidays: the question about Santa Claus's real identity. Parents may dread the question because it means their babies are growing up, but psychiatrists at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas say it's a wonderful teaching opportunity.

Talking about Santa Claus – or other holiday figures – allows you to share your cultural beliefs about myths, magic and traditions. Figures like Santa Claus represent kindness and generosity - values that are important for children to learn in any culture or religious tradition.

Children start to learn the difference between fictional figures like cartoon characters and real life at between the ages of 4 and 6. During this time, they may also be ready to understand Santa Claus as a symbol of the holiday season and the values he represents.


Dec. 2004