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Kristen Bell told her preschooler the truth about Santa: How to know if your child is ready

Rather than continue the cover-up Kristen created a teachable moment - here's how to know if your child is ready for the truth.

If you've encouraged the Santa myth in your home then you'll know there will come a time when the truth must be told.
Studies suggest that most kids figure things out at around the age of seven, but some will be skeptical from earlier on and some will believe for much longer. Either way, it's all good.
In the case of Frozen 2 star Kristen Bell's oldest daughter, Lincoln, there was definitely skepticism from early on.
Kristen has revealed to Women's Day that Lincoln, now six, was only three when she started having doubts - so rather than propagate the myth, Kristen chose to fess up.
She recounts her conversation with Lincoln: "She said, 'I'm just not buying this whole Santa Claus thing. There's no way he would be able to make it to every single house. You said there's billions of people on the planet,'" Kristen said, admitting, "At that moment, my heart kind of sank."
Kristen decided to make it a teachable moment.
"I pictured her in a more adult situation where she had a sinking feeling in her gut and wanted to ask the question.
"Was I going to pat her on the head and go 'Stop thinking about that, I already told you, it's fine, believe me.' Or would I want to produce the kind of person who goes, 'I'm sorry, I really do need more information on this'?"
She did go in softly though, telling Lincoln that Santa is "an imaginary game we play because it's really, really fun" so that Lincoln wouldn't spoil the magic for her younger sister, Delta, who is now four now and still a believer.
"But when she [Delta] says to me, 'Is this person a real human being?' I will have the same conversation with her as I did with Lincoln," Kristen said.

What to say if your kids are starting to ask questions

If you're starting to dodge questions from your own kids and are not sure what to say, the good news is research suggests kids can be totally into Christmas, with or without Santa.
What's important is to be honest with yourself, first. Are you sad about giving up the truth for yourself or for your child? It's lovely to relive the magic of Christmas through our children's eyes, we have to admit.
Writing for The Conversation, Kristen Dunfield, an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Concordia University, says that it's normal for parents to feel sad when their kids start asking questions. She suggests we instead take some comfort in "recognising these challenging questions for what they are - cognitive development in action."
Studies show that most kids are typically proud of themselves for being such great detectives when they figure it out, so you don't necessarily have to brace yourself for tears or disappointment.
Knowing whether they're ready for the truth can be seen in how they ask the question, says Emily Edlynn, Ph.D., who runs The Art and Science of Mom.
"When a child starts asking if Santa Claus is real, most parents... either say 'of course,' or redirect the question to not quite answer it.
"When a child is satisfied with this, even if they start to have doubts, they may not be ready to stop believing. When a child says something along the lines of, 'Santa isn't real, is he?' it can be useful to reflect the question back to them to figure out why they think so.
"When they're older and can think more critically, they'll tell you Santa isn't real, and especially when their peers are talking about Santa not being real. These are good indicators they're ready to hear the truth."
In an interview with E! News Brad Pitt revealed that he felt a huge sense of betrayal when he found out the truth: "I'm not a real big on the whole Santa thing," he said. "I thought it was a huge act of betrayal when I was a kid. I didn't like that. When I found out the truth, I was like, 'Why, why, why would you lie to me, why?'"