Using the Jolly Elf to Your Advantage

Every year during that first week of December, neighbors down the street set up their 14 different inflatable yard sculptures (smooshtures? What is the term for those-huge-when-inflated-but-flaccid-when-unplugged holiday doodads everyone seems to be plopping in their yards these days?) and outline their house, trees, shrubbery, and mailbox with thousands of colored lights. And like clockwork, fifteen seconds after that first surge of electricity powers up their display, my kids turn into Oh Holy Terrors. And I know I'm not alone in my not-so-silent nights.

Whether from the excitement of non-stop must-have toy commercials or some primal reaction to the seasonal climate change, the whining, arguing and sudden inability to perform the most basic of chores can really destroy the joyful feelings and memories "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" is supposed to provide.

I've collected some ideas from other parents on how they use Santa Claus as a behavior modifier. And although I have no idea if these people were on the naughty or nice list, there were some pretty good ones :

  • One of the most popular methods was to simply call Santa and report infractions directly. It was interesting to learn that just threatening to call was just as effective as actually dialing a number.
  • A Christmas decoration (toy elf, Xmas tree topper, bugged bows on wreaths, etc.) would provided Claus with behavioral data rather than a parent acting as Santa stoolie.
  • One Godfather-esque approach was on particularly bad days, this parent would tie a ribbon around a charcoal briquette, attach a gift tag addressed to the offending party, and leave it on the porch as a warning.
  • Put "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" on heavy rotation in your iPod. Any other time, a song telling a kid to "watch out" and not cry would sound sinister and "He sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake" has a total stalker-vibe to it, but there are times when it's necessary to fight fire with fire. Once they know the lyrics, just humming the tune works as well.
  • Visit the Big Guy in person. (You know the kids who cry in Santa's presence? This might have less to do with shyness and more from cracking under the pressure to be good.)

Do you have any creative Santa clauses to keep your kids in check? Spill, please! Holidaying minds want to know!

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.