When is it OK to tell kids Santa isn’t real?

Dylan Stableford
December 22, 2011

Have you told your kids the truth about Santa Claus yet?

If you have, chances are they're older than 8. And if you haven't, chances are someone else did.

According to a recent poll by iVillage, 51 percent of parents feel that children 8 and younger should believe in Santa, while just 6 percent said kids 8 and under should know that St. Nick is fictional.

About 40 percent of the parents polled by the site said the right age to break the news about Santa to children is between the ages of 8 and 12, while one in 10 adults feel you can put off that disclosure until after kids turn 12. A startling 27 percent of those surveyed don't ever plan to tell their kids.

They won't have to. Just 26 percent of parents surveyed by iVillage were able to tell the truth about Santa themselves. Forty percent of those that were not said their kids found out from other kids--whose parents, presumably, toss ice water on the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy.

At least the reasons parents are revealing the harsh reality about Santa to their children are logical: 17 percent said they "didn't want other kids making fun of them"; 17 percent said they "didn't want them to find out another way and be upset"; and 17 percent said it was "just time they knew."

And:

Even in families where kids do not believe in Santa, the seasonal spirit is still alive, as a surprisingly clear majority, (83%), decorates the house with Santa-themed trimmings and watches Santa-themed movies (61%). In addition, nearly half (48%) continue to claim that "Santa" still visits their home and brings presents, and also leave snacks out for him on Christmas Eve.

More than 75 percent of parents polled by iVillage said they think their children still believe in Santa--with 62 percent using Santa's "naughty" list as leverage to encourage good behavior around the holidays. And 11 percent "lean on him for disciplinary help all year round."

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