Healthy Kids    

Mommy, where is my prince charming?

Can fairy tales hurt my child?

At one time parents were advised to avoid reading fairy tales to children because they contain elements of horror. Some educators believe, however, that fairy tales do have a positive effect on young children.

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Children from kindergarten age onward who are sheltered from terrors such as those that appear in fairy tales are prevented from learning the strength necessary to cope with them. Needless to say, some children witness more horrors on television than they encounter in the pages of fairy tales.

Fairy tales also provide a necessary rest from the struggles of dealing with the real world. At around 8 years of age, interest in fairy tales peaks. Fairy tales confirm the child's beliefs about the world:

- The protagonist, or the main character, whom the child identifies with, is the center of the universe.

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- The world has magic, and finding the right magic will transform important events.

- A good child conforms to a parent figure's rules. An example is the rule that Snow White is not allowed to let anyone in the house while the dwarfs are at work.

- Adversity or trouble must be confronted, but hopefully everything will turn out all right in the end.

- No extenuating circumstances or excuses will save the violator from being punished.

Finally, reading fairy tales and other good literature to children exposes them to a variety of rich language and grammatical patterns which they do not get from television.

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Courtesy Growing Child; Dennis Dunn, Publisher, Growing Child, P.O. Box 620, Lafayette IN 47902; 800-927-7289;