I have a bone to pick with Santa. As much as I love the big guy I am really tired of the part of him that is a parent-power-sucking-sponge. The whole naughty or nice thing has several issues (um, are poor kids or kids in orphanages naughty?) But the idea of Santa as a spy who is really into behavior modification has a lot of parents compounding the problem.
Santa must be sick of tattle tales!
For some folks who struggle with discipline, Santa is like a big fat permission slip to be wimpy parents. When we attempt to secure desired behavior through the threat or promise of Santa instead of handling the problem ourselves, in essence we’re saying, “I can’t handle this, maybe you’ll behave for Santa.” Or, sometimes it has the flavor of mom or dad tattletale-ing to Santa as in, “Do you want me to call Santa and tell him what you’re doing?”
Shelve the elves!
Bad as all that is, merchandisers have come up with another way to suck up both our money and our parental competency! The Elf on the Shelf. The idea is that you buy a cute little elf to sit somewhere in you house. During the day, he watches the children. At night, he goes to the North Pole to report the children’s behavior to Santa and appears in a different spot the next morning, ready to spy on the children again. In the meantime, parents are able to threaten their children with the elf and the possibility of no presents or an unhappy Santa. Cute, huh?
Santa or the Elf on the Shelf may help bring a little “peace on earth” in the short term, but if parents rely on them during the holidays what happens on December 26th? Not only is that parenting
crutch tool gone, but they’ve been busy sending their child messages of incompetency for weeks and may have accidentally dug themselves into a hole that is not easy to get of.
Do you suffer from Santa or elf dependence?
How do you know if there’s a problem? Well, some pretty good indicators are having to repeat directions several times, changing your directions to try to gain compliance, scolding, threatening, giving in or punishments or rewards that just don’t seem to make a lasting impact overall. All this leaves an incredibly exhausted, frustrated and stressed out parent–not to mention a child who is ultimately not happy either.
Take back your parent power!
Fortunately, even if you’ve fallen into a trap where you’ve given your parenting power away to someone else, with some knowledge and a lot of determination you CAN get back to where you need to be. It starts with taking back your parent power and learning how to manage power struggles. One resource is our recorded course Discipline: Managing Your Child’s Bid for Power But, at the very least, forget about using Santa as a means to control a child’s behavior and if you must put the elf on the shelf, just let him sit there and look cute–don’t make him spy for Santa!