How To Tell Your Kids Fantasy Characters Are Make Believe

Karen Phillip

Relationships Expert

When should we tell our children the truth about Santa, tooth fairy and other child characters? This is a question so many parents struggle with, in fact, I know some parents that do not believe in telling their children ‘lies’ about these characters.

The fact is Santa does exist. Every parent is, in fact, Santa Clause at Christmas. They plan the gifts, they wrap, surprise and delight their children; this is being Santa Clause. While the big man dressed in his red suit is a representation of the giving, love and sharing of Christmas, it is simply that, a representation. It is not a lie to have our children believe and enjoy Santa Clause as it helps them visually understand the meaning of giving, deserving and earning gifts.

fantasy-charactersimage via pinterest

In regards to the tooth fairy; this is a reward for the bravery and excitement of losing baby teeth as your child grows into a more grown up individual. It is exciting. The tooth fairy is sweet, generous and rewarding to every child. Isn’t that a wonderful thing, especially after the distress so many kids experience when losing their teeth? She is a representation of this event.

Is it any different than a child than pretending to be a Princess or Superman? Children need a degree of fantasy and make believe, it is healthy.

Most children start to understand the difference between reality and make-believe as they develop and mature. All children are different with some questioning earlier than others. I say, keep their fantasy alive. It is fun and exciting, creates anticipation and delivers the reward. Children live in a very confronting world these days, to have some escape and make-believe is healthy and necessary.

What does a parent do when their child does ask that question “Is Santa Clause or the Tooth Fairy real?”

Many children will be told from someone at school or their older sibling that these characters are not real. When this is finally asked, I suggest you share with your child what Santa and the tooth fairy actually represent. When the child is little, they really want to believe in their fantasy as it is exciting and wonderful; allow them to enjoy this as long as possible.

Parents can say to a young child that some kids say they are not real but then ask the child who does bring gifts and puts money under the pillow, ask them if they really think mum or dad get up in the middle of the night and do all this? The child will draw their own conclusion. Once the child is old enough to start reasoning things and understands you may, in fact, purchase the gift or place the money there, then it is time to discuss the meaning of these characters.

It remains important the child does not feel deceived therefore explaining that you, in fact, are a Santa Clause and the big jolly man in red is a representation of that giving usually satisfies them. Same for the tooth fairy, you represent the reward the child deserves after losing their baby teeth, and it makes it sweet for the young child to believe in fairies, now they are older that can learn and understand the parent is the sweet fairy instead.

All characters’ children experience when young is exciting. Many characters teach children a considerable amount of compassion, giving, love, acceptance and even safety as they lose themselves in a fantasy world where they have control over what happens. In a child’s life, this is the time they get to feel safe, comforted and lost in a beautiful and wondrous world.

Grown up individuals lose themselves in fantasy during movies, dancing to their favourite song or singing aloud when alone. Children lose themselves in their make-believe fantasy world, and we would all agree, this is sometimes an incredible and happy place to be.

Allow your child to have their fantasy, help make their life fun while a child, as it should be. Indulge their make-believe world because before too long reality hits and this is sometimes a more difficult place to live in.


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