My 1st grader burst into the door with exciting news: “Mom, I have to be good, Santa’s watching me!”
While most parents would leap for joy at that statement, I cringed.
Santa’s not watching you,” I mumbled under my breath. Trying not to crush her spirit – or her enthusiasm for being good – I forced a smile.
Suddenly, it all came back to me. I remembered why I hate Santa.
Every year it’s the same story: “Be good, Santa’s watching you.” Or, “You better shape up; Santa won’t leave you any toys.”
I get it. Parents say it because it works. Your child stops mid-tantrum. They listen. They empty the dishwasher.
But the results are temporary. Five minutes later, you’re giving the same warnings. The behavior is fueled by fear of losing gifts, not by a desire to do the right thing.
And what happens on Christmas day? What do you have to hold over your child’s head then? Santa is no longer watching. You’re stuck.
I want my kids to be good because they are internally motivated to do so, not because they’re terrified that their stockings will be empty on Christmas morning.
Focus on the Fun
I guess it’s not really Santa that I hate. I hate the way we’ve turned something fun into another way to punish our kids.
If you want to talk about Santa, focus on the excitement and magic of the season.
Help your kids get into the Christmas spirit, listen to Christmas music, visit cool light displays. Encourage them to put money in the red kettles or collect coats & mittens. Host a secret Santa gift exchange or find ways to help them give gifts to others.
Let’s keep their behavior out of it.
P.S Don’t get me started on that super-creepy elf.
If you’d like more tips on surviving the holidays, check out the Ultimate Holiday Stress Survival Guide for Parents
If you’re using Santa as a threat, but not sure what else to try, Parent Coaching may be right for you. We will work together to find a solution that will work for your kids and your family.