Do your holiday traditions align with your family values? The holidays should be about joy and magic for our kids. What if we flipped the script and instead of using threats such as: “Santa’s watching…” and “You’d better not cry…,” we send a more positive and encouraging message to our kids this time of year? What if we changed the narrative of that tattletale elf so we’re not using fear tactics to get our kids to behave? Wouldn’t that send a more compassionate, loving message to our kids during a season that is supposed to be about wonder and excitement? I’m not saying we should ditch ‘Elf on the Shelf’ or deny that Santa brings gifts… And it’s of course fine to expect your child to show good behavior! Let’s just find a way to use those holiday practices in a way that is more meaningful and empowering.
text: don't just give more attention

How do you feel about the Elf on the Shelf? I’ve found that you either love it or hate it. There’s no middle ground.

I’d like to rewrite the elf’s story to make it fit our positive, compassionate parenting style. Will you allow me that creative freedom?  Here we go.

“There once was an elf from the North Pole. The elf came to visit our house in December as we got excited for Christmas. The elf liked to sit on a shelf and other up high places for the better view of all the fun and loving activity in the household. The elf wants you to have a very merry Christmas. The End.”

This elf is not a nark. This elf doesn’t run and tattle to Santa. This elf does not threaten to take anything away from you if you happen to have a bad day here and there. This elf doesn’t shame anyone for making bad choices.

If you want to have an elf that sits on a shelf in your house this month- do it! If you don’t want to have one- don’t do it! But make sure this holiday tradition actually aligns with the values of this holiday and of your family. An elf can sit on a shelf and just be about joy- not about spying on behavior. An elf can be about silliness and laughter- not about tattling and fear. Your elf can just be for fun.

But what if our kids have already read the book that is all about tattling and instilling fear? Just tell them it’s old and out of date. “That’s how people used to do it. Aren’t you glad our elf is just sweet and fun and we don’t have to worry about tattling or anything?”

If you are relying on this elf to help you with your kids’ behavior this month, I do have good news for you. I’ve got lots of other behavior tools backed by science that are kind and loving and empowering. We can ditch the shame and fear- that’s out of date.

There once was an elf from the north pole. His only purpose was to bring joy. The end.

Are you doing the elf on the shelf? Try my version instead of the old one. Focus on the joy and ditch the tattling and fear tactics. It’ll actually work out much better in the end.  We have an elf that sits on the shelf that spreads joy. Her name is Jingle.

Now that I have reminded you that Christmas season is a time of joy- not threats of losing your gifts or getting coal in your stocking, let’s move on to Santa.  You know, the jolly old elf who makes a list and checks it twice?

In the spirit of focusing on what your child needs, meeting them where they are at, and making the holiday season a time of joy and love, I present to you a rewritten classic, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” by Leanne Page of Parenting with ABA.

No need to watch out
It’s okay to cry
Let’s figure out why you pout
I’m telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town

He’s making a list,
He’s checking it twice,
He’s gonna bring gifts to all that are nice
Santa Claus is coming to town

Sweet dreams when you are sleeping
Kind words when you’re awake
He knows that you love Christmas time
So have fun for goodness sake

No need to watch out
It’s okay to cry
Let’s figure out why you pout
I’m telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town

Magic. Wonder. Joy. Excitement.
That is what the holiday season should be about for our kids. Yes, the holidays can be trying and negative behaviors are bound to pop up, but we can help our kids with out using shame and fear tactics.
If you’re counting on Santa and/or Elf on the Shelf to keep your kids in line this season, I strongly encourage you to try some positive tools instead to figure out what your kids need and teach them to communicate their wants and needs in more appropriate ways.
If you’re counting on Santa and/or Elf on the Shelf to get your kids to behave, I implore you to learn some quick behavior tools and focus on building up your kids instead.
If you’re counting on Santa and/or Elf on the Shelf to save your sanity this month, I beg you to try something else. Not sure where to start? Just message me. I’m ready to help!
Additionally, our Meaningful Holidays Challenge will definitely provide you with ideas to promote joy and create happy memories this season while alleviating some stress. Click here to sign up: https://wsww.parentingwithaba.org/meaningful-holidays/
I’d love to see you there!