This time of year is always a magical one for children and adults alike. Putting up the tree, going to visit Santa’s grotto, having one whole month to use the line ‘Santa is watching you’, is a parent’s secret weapon. The mince pie is left out on Christmas Eve and waking up to see the pure excitement on the children's faces on Christmas morning is something everyone looks forward to.

But, two experts have warned that indulging our children in the myth of Father Christmas in fact damaging to their mental health.

Constant threats

The constant threat of not receiving presents through bad behaviour, that they are being watched and judged accordingly will apparently have an impact.

When it comes time for them to find out the truth of the big red fellow either via a parent, friend or on the playground, it can lead to the trust in their parents being undermined after they have been lied to for so many years.

Generations have been told the myth of Father Christmas which has evolved down through time. It isn’t now just a case of being on the Naughty Or Nice list, but having an Elf on the Shelf watch your every move, or even have a mimic Elf surveillance camera; a mock security camera complete with elf reports to the North Pole. Has the threat of receiving a bit of coal now turned slightly Orwellian? Big Brother Watch pressure group seem to think so.

No trust

Psychology Professor Christopher Boyle and social scientist Dr Kathy McKay have advised in the Lancet Psychiatry that lying to our children about Santa is, in fact, destroying the trust they have in us, and leading to them not relying on us for guidance.

Is this just another example of us being the most offended generation by shattering the Christmas magic? Or should we be completely honest and transparent with our children?

Some parents have been vocal on social media about the fact they tell their children the truth, with some going on to say that their children were scared about the thought of a man coming into their house in the middle of the night to deliver presents.

Experts have also argued that the threat of not receiving any presents takes away the generous nature of the season and that it shouldn’t matter if you receive presents or not.

Naughty or Nice?

Being naughty or nice is an interregnal part of childhood someone argues, and this is how children learn how society works. Instead, they are being told to be good all the time, as someone is watching, and they will be punished.

Childhood is one of the only times it is an acceptable time to believe in magic and fantasy, this helps children differentiate between reality and fiction in later life. But according to Boyle and McKay it is damaging to lie to children consistently for several years.

Ultimately, experts have advised that it is a parent’s choice whether to tell their children if Santa is real and this is normally based on family tradition.

However, if you choose to tell your children the truth you run the risk of it spreading around the playground and shattering the magic for others.

Is believing in a magical myth who endorses the spirit of giving and spending time as a family so damaging? Or is it the new trend of telling our children they are being constantly watched and judged by those they cannot see the real issue?

Surely, it is a right of passage through childhood, just like the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny, and when you look back you do not resent your parents for lying to you that Santa is not real, but appreciate the effort they went to at this time of year to make it so special?