Psychologist: Santa should be a bit scary

SYDNEY - Children who fear Santa Claus are normal because they have grown up to be wary of strangers, and parents should not panic if their little ones squirm and blubber when they meet the jolly man in the red costume, an Australian child psychologist said on Wednesday.

"What happens with the Santa scenario is that kids are less apprehensive than they might be because of the confidence of the parents and because Santa is a character around which there are all sorts of stories," Sydney University's Marc De Rosnay said.

"Given the rarity of the situation, given that it's very brief in duration and given that the fantasy of Christmas will be much more significant to them later on, I'd say it's extremely unlikely that it's doing any harm to the kids."

De Rosnay said a child meeting Santa was "socialising them into our traditions, and all cultures do that."

He urged parents not to try to shield children from anxiety by warning them they might be afraid of Santa, because this would only raise their fearfulness.

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Writer: dpa
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