NU.nl has launched the NUjunior.nl news site especially for children. It can sometimes be difficult for parents to talk to their child about certain news topics. Experts come to the rescue in this series. This time: how do you talk to your child about the inevitable end of believing in the good saint?
Young children live in a magical world where fantasy and reality intertwine. The tooth fairy who turns a tooth into a coin, the cheerful Easter bunny who hides eggs; small children believe almost everything. Similarly in Sinterklaas.
The great thing about Sinterklaas is that it reinforces socialization, says developmental psychologist Steven Pont. "And Sinterklaas not only makes children happy, but also parents. It is a national tradition with its own rituals, songs and delicacies that strengthens the child's bonding both at the micro level (the family bond) and at the macro level (the bond with society) "
We all do lying
Parents who in spite of romance already shrink from discovering the lie may choose to expose Santa Claus every year as the neighbor he really is, says Pont. "If Saint Nicholas is a disguised man, that doesn't necessarily have to spoil the fun for children. Just look at carnival."
"On the other hand, we shouldn't fool ourselves either. We constantly lie to children." Put on your coat, otherwise you'll catch cold, "is one of them. And no matter how harsh the truth may be for the child that discovers that Sinterklaas does not exist, there is nobody at the age of thirty at the psychiatrist because of the great Saint Trauma. "
Follow your child's timing
In fact, pedagogues agree that parents who tell themselves at an early stage that Sinterklaas does not exist, deprive their children of a wise lesson. Namely that the truth does not exist. But how do you handle the approaching end in a good way? According to Pont, it starts with the knowledge that on average children stop believing around the age of seven. "If your child starts to share his doubts, it's a good time to go on with that." How good that you wonder. How could it be? " Follow your child in his own mind. "
Have a bad news conversation on time
Of course there are also children who, despite clear signals in the classroom, persistently insist that the real Sinterklaas does exist, he is on TV anyway! Then according to the development psychologist it is time for a bad news interview. "When parents don't want to let go of the magic of the party themselves, they sometimes wait too long. But as a parent you always have to be above the material. It is not nice for a child to find out that he turns out to be that one loser who did not know it yet. And that is your fault. That all adults knew, a la, but "all" children are different. "
Let the tears come
The approach to such a bad news conversation is the same as with adults, says Pont. "Do not drain, but pull the plaster off in one go. Sinterklaas does not exist. Then you can work on recovery from there." Thereby it is important to leave enough room for the sorrow. "As a parent we find it difficult to see our children sad, but experiencing sadness has a function, that's how you process it." So even if you feel guilty, don't try to push away the tears of your child - and your own.
Create new rituals together
When the tears are dried, you can have a more substantive conversation. How could we celebrate Sinterklaas in the future? Pont: "The specific approach depends for a large part on your child. If your child is creative, propose surprises or write poems. If it is your youngest, you can spawn him by saying that he is now big enough to participate. in the conspiracy towards his younger nephews and nieces. And especially emphasize that 'the lie' was born of love. "
Does your child like to stay up to date with the latest news? Have him or her visit NUjunior.nl. Here children read safe and reliable news, specially made for them.