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Why is it so important for children to believe in fairy tales?

I spent a lot, of time with the kids. They mostly played in the afternoons, but occasionally they would come up to me and ask me to read a story even when they had free playtime. I always wondered at the time, you can play with toy cars or paint but you prefer to sit quietly and listen to a story?

Immersing myself in the world of fairy tales with them was my favorite part of the day too.

I enriched the reading with different questions and conversations, and together we explained different things we came across in the story.

I saw with my own eyes how these stories affect children, how they change their thinking and develop their world.

I am by no means an expert, but I decided to summarize some information about fairy tales and the fairy tale world and its influence on the children's world that I have observed myself.

If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want your children to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales. - Albert Einstein

The world of fairy tales helps children understand the world around them

For children, the world is a vast and fascinating place, full of many wonderful experiences but also great obstacles. Every child perceives the world differently, asks different questions, and understands the answers in their own way.

Children who believe in fairy tales perceive the world as a magical place, full of wonders. I was once on a walk with a little girl who has a fairytale soul in her. We came across a beautifully landscaped garden with blooming flowers of all colors and a gorgeous stone pathway. We both gazed at the garden in fascination for a while and then she said "That's where the fairies live! Look how beautifully they take care of the garden." At that moment, tears welled up in my eyes. No matter who was actually tending the garden, she spent the rest of the walk looking for all sorts of sticks, pebbles, and flowers. She, too, wanted to make a garden at home to invite the fairies into.

They build emotional resilience and faith in happy endings

Believing in happy endings and thinking positively is helpful even in adulthood.

In children's stories, children can easily relate to the main characters; the character solves problems and conflicts that the child cannot solve or is afraid of solving on his or her own. A large proportion of children, after hearing such a story, realize that conflicts and difficult situations can happen to anyone and gain the necessary confidence to solve problems. With the courage to venture into them, a child can overcome fear and other challenges.

Critical thinking, problem-solving, distinguishing right from wrong

Children cannot distinguish between conflicts, right from wrong, or find a solution to a problem on their own without help. Listening to stories where the main characters overcome different obstacles helps children find solutions to different situations. They put themselves in the shoes of the characters and think about how they would have solved the situation.

I like to ask the children after reading the story how they would have acted. Often times they look at things through their own eyes and discover a new way of solving the problem.

Develops imagination and empathy and builds one's own identity

Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited, imagination is infinite. - Albert Einstein

As soon as I start reading the story the room goes silent. The children become immersed in the world of the story and a story begins to unfold in their heads. That's when I know we have been transported into another world together.

I like to ask if they too would lend a helping hand to someone in need. Most of the time the answer is an immediate yes, but then they give it some thought and after a while, they can explain why they would do so.

If children take a liking to a character from their favorite story, it often happens that they will try to act like that character, or at least borrow the qualities they need at the moment.

More than once I've heard the phrase from a child, "No I'm not afraid! Not even a *favorite fairy tale character* is afraid."

Contact with emotions and the reality of the world

Fairy tales do not tell children that dragons exist. Children have known for a long time that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children that dragons can be defeated. - G.K. Chesterton

Children encounter emotions in stories that they have not yet experienced, or emotions that they cannot yet name.

Many parents also think that in fairy tales children encounter aggression and themes of violence that a child must not come into contact with. For children, it is important to understand the consequences of these actions and to learn which actions are wrong at an early age.

A child views death and violence differently than an adult. In the story of Little Red Riding Hood, we read about how the wolf was cut open, stones were thrown into its belly and sewn up. The wolf went for a drink and fell into the water. To the children this was perfectly fine, we even laughed at how funny he must have walked when he had so many stones in his belly.

In stories, good always wins over evil, so the child remembers that actions that are perceived as evil have no chance of a good ending. In contrast, in the fairy tales that are easily found on television today, it can easily happen that evil goes unpunished.

What does that have to do with me?

Many psychologists recommend allowing a child to believe in fairy-tale creatures for as long as possible, quietly even up to 10 years. It is the mystery associated with them that is one of the most beautiful memories of childhood.

Santa Claus, the tooth fairy or the water fairies in the lake are just a few examples that I remember from my childhood. These characters figure in the most beautiful and magical memories from my childhood.

A child's soul truly shines when a child discovers that characters from fairy tales really exist. It really reinforces to a child that happy endings do exist, and anything is possible.


The topic of fairy tales is a much debated one in today's society, their influence on children and the children's world. The truth is that classic fairy tales have a much more positive influence on a child than fairy tales on television. Whether this is because it is harder for a parent to control what happens in a cartoon, or whether they do not talk to their child about these fairy tales is questionable.

The best a parent can do is to choose fairy tales based on their discretion and the age of the child.

The story of the Little Mermaid, for example, is in every version about a weak girl who leaves her whole world for a man and thinks she can change him. She eventually pays the price herself. I don't like this story either. But nowadays, it's not hard to find stories about girls who don't give up and wait for princes.

The key, however, remains to communicate. Ask for the child's opinion after reading the fairy tale, whether the characters acted correctly, and how they perceive various aspects. Talk about the dangers of different actions such as jumping over the fire or into the furnace.

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