Threatening to put children on Father Christmas’s naughty list really does improve their behaviour, a study found. Picture: Reuters
Threatening to put children on Father Christmas’s naughty list really does improve their behaviour, a study found. Picture: Reuters

Santa's naughty list threat really does stop children behaving badly

By ELEANOR HAYWARD Time of article published Dec 23, 2019

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London - Threatening to put children on Father Christmas’s naughty list really does improve their behaviour, a study found.

The tactic is used by parents to get children to behave – and is referenced in the festive hit Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town.

It includes the lyrics "He’s making a list – he’s checking it twice. He’s gonna find out who’s naughty or nice".

Santa is said to give bad children a lump of coal while good children are rewarded with wished-for presents like toys and sweets.

Scientists at Exeter University surveyed more than 4 200 parents around the world.

More than a third said they had used the threat of putting children on the naughty list to improve behaviour – and it worked.

Psychologist Dr Chris Boyle said: "Around 40 percent of respondents had used the idea of Santa or elves or little helpers to get their children to behave throughout the year." 

He added that many children are disappointed or even traumatised when it is suggested Father Christmas is not real.

Researchers found that people who hold high-level academic qualifications such as a doctorate started to question Santa’s existence at an average seven years and seven months. 

But this process did not happen so quickly for people with lower or no qualifications. Those who did not pass any exams still had faith in Santa when they were eight years and eight months – eight months longer than average. 

Dr Boyle said: "I’ve received highly personal testimony from people around the globe." He stressed when Santa’s existence was questioned it saddened children.

"For some, this did affect their trust in adults and caused sadness which has lessened the joy they took in celebrating Christmas."

Daily Mail

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