Vacancy Care's December Newsletter

December 2022


Happy holidays everyone, and welcome to our December newsletter! As always, we provide an overview of what is happening within our childcare community. This month we will focus on magical thinking in children and how they occur.

Topic of the month - Magical Thinking in Children

Well, the holidays are just around the corner and this month simply seems to hold a certain kind of magical spell that propels all of us to search for the kid within. And while adults try to recapture that magical sense, young children’s minds seem to be filled with nothing but magical thinking. However, this magical thinking results from their egocentric stage of development and anything but rational or logical. Magical thinking is a phase when children believe they are powerful and that their behaviour affects random events. 

Magical thinking also allows parents to hide behind the Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus and his reindeer. This is also a time when children engage frequently in fantasy play or make believe and create imaginary friends along the way. 

Attaching Meaning to an Object or Behaviour

Magical thinking can sometimes manifest when a child attaches a belief associated with a particular object or behaviour. For example, your toddler may insist to only eat using their special plate or cutlery and think without it any food, even their favourite, is simply unappealing.

Or they believe that being a nice child will mean Santa Claus will definitely reward them with their wishes and gifts come Christmas. Or that leaving cookies and milk will mean Santa and his reindeer won’t forget about stopping by their house on Christmas eve. 

They may have these quirky rituals they need to perform that they believe results in the outcomes they want.


Children exercising their magical thinking may suddenly exhibit avoidance behaviours such as not using the potty in their classroom, or not doing an activity at certain places or times due to an incredible belief that avoiding certain behaviours can influence the occurrence or non-occurrence of an event. 

For example, a child may suddenly refuse to use a certain coloured pencil or crayon when doing a colouring activity or the child may refrain from relieving him/herself in school even when he/she can already use the toilet independently. 


While some children become more cautious and restrictive, some children start to develop these short repetitive behaviours that become like rituals for them. These behaviours can range from turning in circles to summon their favourite TV show, or tapping their spoon and fork three times before taking a bite or turning door knobs X number of times before finally opening a door. Children engaged in magical thinking continue doing these repetitive behaviours because they strongly believe that doing these rituals cause their desired effect. 


While magical thinking is normal for young children to undergo which somehow helps them develop a sense of agency, however exaggerated it may seem, it can be cause for concern when it interferes with their daily routine such as mealtimes, school, play or bedtime. 

Harness Magical Thinking to your Advantage

Children who are currently in this magical thinking phase are also in the egocentric stage of development. This means that children strongly believe in their own agency and ability to affect events and outcomes through their behaviour. 

For parents and caregivers, you can turn this magical thinking into a tool to help guide children into fostering their creativity, openness, and empathy.

  • Ask questions about the fantasy play your child is engaged in.

This helps you assess where your child is currently in their cognitive development. It gives you a peek at how their innerworld is developing, the thoughts they are having and the sense of agency and self-efficacy a child is experiencing. Having agency and their level of self-efficacy shows how effective they are in achieving their goals and this self-efficacy is a basis for their self-esteem. 

  • Learn more about their imaginary friend. 

Sometimes, imaginary friends are an extension of the child’s thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Asking indirect questions about their imaginary friends can help you understand a child’s inner state and emotional landscape. 

Imaginary friends help children cope with stress, new surroundings, feelings, or situations. They can serve as a protective buffer for a child’s mental state, syphoning their negative experiences. It can also give a child a sense of control and practice for navigating new and confusing social situations without the risk of social repercussions or discipline. It gives them a way to explore different scenarios, reactions and behaviour to see which one is the most appropriate.  

  • Encourage creativity by letting them voice out their magical thinking thoughts no matter how absurd it may sound.

Young children still have a very limited sense of the world around them but magical thinking augments it temporarily. It helps them make sense of a world that may not make sense to their still developing minds. 

As Einstein once famously said, “"Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world."

The Takeaway

For parents whose children are beginning to engage in magical thinking, if you’re wondering when it will stop, researchers think children start figuring out some things don’t work as they magically thought by age 10. They usually begin to question the possibility of Santa making a worldwide run entering through chimneys and dropping gifts at this age. Slowly, the magical thinking wanes and children begin to think more logically about cause-and-effect relationships. But before that happens, parents may still have to accept that children will thank Santa for the wonderful gifts they find on Christmas morning. 

Childcare Development

0-12 month development

The Benefits of Reading to Your Baby

Author: Linda DiProperzio and Alison Fox 

Aside from improving language skills and improving the bond between you and your baby, reading has a lot of benefits that give your baby’s brain a huge boost. And while your baby still doesn’t have the comprehension to understand what you’re reading, it gives you more freedom to choose which books to read. So while baby books are highly recommended, you can definitely catch up on your reading list while your baby is yet to understand and fully develop their comprehension and language skills. 

Learn more about the benefits of reading to your baby in this article

1-2 year development

Fussy eating


Have mealtimes become a lottery of whether or not your child will finish their plate or you’d need to whip out your wit to make them eat a spoonful or two of their dinner? Mealtimes can certainly be a stressful time with fussy eaters but there are ways to make mealtimes a pleasant experience for both your child and their nutrition. 

Read about how to deal with fussy eaters in this article.

2-3 year development

How mud boosts your immune system

Authors: Alessia Franco and David Robson

Playing outdoors, specifically in the mud, has been proven to be largely beneficial to a child’s body, mind and overall wellbeing. By playing in the mud, they are exposed to friendly microorganisms that help their skin, gut, and immune system better train and fight against infections. 

Find out more research-based evidence for mudslinging play here.

3-4 year development

8 Family Values All Parents Should Incorporate, According to Child Development Experts

Author: Ashley Abramson

Children learn their values from their family and parents are the first guides they get to teach them which values they need to develop and actively practise. Now, childhood development experts have narrowed down which family values.   

Find out which family values you already are actively focusing on and which ones you may want to add to your family values here.

4-5 year development

Study Finds That Children Don’t Actually Believe Everything They Are Told

Author: Society for Research in Child Development

Researchers have found out that as children age, so does their scepticism about what adults tell them. In two separate studies, researchers presented children with various statements that may or may not match their beliefs. The studies showed that younger children tend to explore to prove their belief while older children tend to explore to prove/disprove their doubts about what the adults told them. 

Find out more about the study and how children start to break away from magical thinking here.

Craft Corner

Easy 3-Ingredient Christmas Salt Dough Ornaments

Just in time for the holidays, have children craft their own salt dough ornaments which they can hang either in the Christmas tree at school or at home. This easy recipe that only calls for 3 ingredients will help children develop their fine motor skills shaping their salt dough ornaments. They can also practise their simple math skills measuring and mixing the ingredients. 

Get the recipe for salt dough ornaments here.

Edible Candy Cane Slime

Just in time for the holidays, give your kids a safe, sweet, and tasty treat/activity by letting them create their own edible candy cane slime. Using marshmallows, peppermint flavouring, and red food colour, let your child have a go at this edible sensory-rich activity!

Find the recipe on how to make an edible candy cane slime here. 

How to make a fire-breathing dragon

Give your child a dragon pet that they can design and decorate themselves with this fire-breathing dragon creation activity! This activity helps their fine motor skills and creativity by letting them take the lead in designing, cutting and choosing the colours and face of their pet dragon. Adult supervision will be needed however when it comes to attaching parts to the tube using a hot glue gun. 

Check out the instructions on how to create a fire-breathing dragon here.

Edible Mountain Building Tectonic Plates Experiments for Kids

Make learning earth science easy and edible in this mountain-building project that lets kids experiment and see using graham crackers how the earth’s plates crash, collide or collapse under another to form a new mountain or valley. 

Find more earth-science building concepts you can teach using graham crackers and whipped cream here.