Sunday 26 January 2020

Parents use Santa's naughty list to control children

Santa making his list and checking it twice.
Santa making his list and checking it twice.

Rod Minchin

Parents around the globe enlist Santa Claus and his elves to get their children to behave, according to a major international survey.

The threat of being on Santa Claus's naughty list had improved the behaviour of a third of people surveyed, the study found.

The University of Exeter survey, taken by 4,200 people from around the world, shows the average age of children when they stop belieiving in Santa is eight.

This is almost the same for both the USA and the UK.

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The study shows that 62pc were aged between seven and 10 when they stopped believing in Santa Claus, while 6pc were 11 and just 1.5pc were aged over 13.

Psychologist Dr Chris Boyle, who runs the survey, said: "Around 40pc of respondents had used the idea of Santa or elves or little helpers to get their children to behave throughout the year. Just under half of parents said they continued telling their child about Father Christmas because they wanted to keep their own childhood memories alive."

The survey also shows children who leave school with no qualifications are more likely to have believed in Santa for longer.

They still had faith when they were eight years and eight months - eight months longer than average. Those who go on to get a doctorate stopped believing at seven years and seven months.

Dr Boyle has found stopping believing in Santa Claus leads people to question their trust in adults and makes Christmas more disappointing for them.

A third of people questioned said they felt "stupid" when they stopped believing in Santa.

The survey is continuing to run. To take part, go to

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