Children’s Perspective on Encountering Santa using Piaget’s Theory
Question 1: What are the general characteristics of the sensorimotor stage child?
Answer: The sensorimotor stage from birth to two years is defined by rapid growth, reflex movements, and gaining direct knowledge (Brown & Desforges, 2013). A child in this stage understands that an event occurs, and objects exist independently of its actions, a process known as object permanence (Brown & Desforges, 2013).
Question 2: On encountering Santa, explain how the sensorimotor stage child would react and behave?
Answer: A child may be frightened or curious on its first encounter with Santa at this stage. It may also be fascinated or scared by outstanding features like Santa’s voice, beard, or outfit by staring at them.
Question 3: What would this stage child observe and believe?
Answer: Based on the reaction, the child may believe that Santa is either a fascinating or a scary creature, and will remember him mainly by his appearance, and not what he does. The child might also relate anything else they see with the same characteristics to Santa.
Question 4: How would the sensorimotor child approach or deal with this experience?
Answer: The child develops object permanence by forming a mental representation of Santa based on the physical appearance.
Question 5: What are the general characteristics of the concrete operational stage child?
Answer: This stage of children aged 7 to 11 years marks the start of logical thought applied to physical objects in an organized and rational manner (Goswami, 2011).
Question 6: On encountering Santa, explain how the concrete operational stage child would react and behave.
Answer: The child by now knows who Santa is physically, and the role he represents. The kid may be more amused than frightened because he or she can tie Santa to his context. For example, Santa appears during Christmas and not Easter holiday, and Santa brings gifts.
Question 7: What would this stage child observe and believe?
Answer: Although they are not able to think hypothetically, at this stage they may notice some inconsistencies. For example, the differences in Santa’s body sizes, or their presence all over. They will start questioning their knowledge about Santa by wondering how reindeer fly, Santa’s ability to access all homes overnight, and how they decide which good behavior needs rewarding. Most of them choose to deal with this by asking for clarification from their parents.
Question 8: How would the concrete operational stage child approach or deal with this experience?
Answer: Most kids will be disappointed on realizing that Santa is merely an illusion, but still feel obligated to carry out the tradition to maintain consistency. For example, getting Christmas presents. By then they realize the gifts come from their parents, but have to keep up with the Santa illusion to keep getting their presents. Such an experience may lead them to start questioning other areas in their life to get the ultimate truth (Slavin, 2012).
Brown, G., & Desforges, C. (2013). Piaget’s Theory. Hoboken, NJ: Taylor and Francis.
Goswami, U. C. (2011). The Wiley-Blackwell handbook of childhood cognitive development.
Slavin, R. E. (2012). Educational psychology: Theory and practice. Boston: Pearson.