Kids reserve a special kind of bad behavior for the month leading up to Christmas that is far less than stellar. You would think they would be on their best behavior in hopes of impressing Santa and raking in the most presents possible. Unfortunately, with Halloween, followed up by Thanksgiving break and Christmas vacation a few weeks later, kids are totally off their normal schedules and totally off their game. There are special activities at school, along with Holiday Parties and a constant onslaught of late nights and special treats to make things worse. Why would we expect anything more from our little ones when they can barely behave on a good day?
This post covers several tools you can use to try to combat bad holiday behavior along with the idle threats and timeouts you normally use. Although I can’t promise any of these approaches will work, it’s certainly worth a try. They may not get you better behavior out of your child, but they can prove quite entertaining for the adults…So I say, “Game On!”
- The Elf on a Shelf: The Elf on a Shelf MAY get you slightly better behavior from your kids the month leading up to Christmas, because your kids will be wary of “Elfie’s” watchful eyes. They may just think twice before pulling their sister’s hair or purposefully tipping over their baby brother. On the other hand, the Elf requires quite a bit of work and creativity from parents in order to be effective, so I’m not sure the rewards outweigh the effort involved. You’ll have to remember to move your Elf every night and repeatedly come up with new and exciting places to put him. Definitely weigh the pros and cons on this one before you jump in with both feet. Although, if you’re a NSZM like me, chances are you already bought your kids an Elf the first year they came out. If so, you may want to refer to Pinterest for some creative ideas on where to put your Elf next. I can guarantee by the end of week one you’re going to be tired and out of ideas. I’ll go into further detail about the Elf on a Shelf in a follow-up post, because this phenomena requires it’s very own dedicated conversation.
- Letter From Santa: There are multiple online companies from which you can order a personalized letter from Santa for your child. They come in a nifty envelope from the North Pole, with an official “Nice List Certificate” that your child can hold on to. Remember not to put your child on the “Nice List” right away if you’re trying to modify their bad holiday behavior. Maybe have the letter from Santa come first to inform your child they’re not on the Nice List yet, followed up by a phone call or video informing them that they have. Although this may seem cruel, it’s your only chance of making any difference in your kid’s behavior. Plus, the look on their face when they realize they’re not on the Nice List will be priceless! A word to the wise, have your camera ready:
- Phone Call From Santa: Scheduling a phone call from Santa can be another good tool to get your child in the Christmas spirit and possibly inspire some good behavior in the coming weeks. Warning: Make sure to preview Santa’s phone message before the actual phone call is scheduled. If you don’t and there is some blaring mistake, you could rock your child’s belief in Santa and ruin Christmas forever. OK, maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but better safe than sorry!
- Video From Santa: The video from Santa is the piece de resistance, but if you want the triple threat get a package deal that includes the video, phone call and letter. This year, I got a deal on Groupon or Living Social for less than $15. Seeing Santa onscreen with their own two eyes, saying your child’s name and talking about their specific bad behavior can really leave an impact. Though your child rarely sits in one place long enough to notice anything, I promise Santa’s video will command their full and undivided attention:
- Participate in a Holiday Charity with your child: This piece of advice takes a totally different approach to addressing your child’s bad holiday behavior. It’s mainly for kids a little bit older who may be able to grasp the message you are sending. Part of the problem is that our kids have so much that they no longer appreciate anything. The idea is to teach your kids to see outside of themselves (not an easy task), by making sure they understand there are many kids who don’t have enough food to eat and warm clothes to wear, let alone gifts under the Christmas tree. Many schools, churches and charities set up Christmas trees covered with wish lists for underprivileged kids in your community. This year we picked two kids to buy winter jackets and toys for. Try to get your kids involved in shopping for the presents and writing a card to go with the gifts (or drawing a picture if they can’t write yet). I’m not sure what age this approach starts to really sink in, but it can’t be a bad thing to help others. Plus, it will make you feel good and put you in the holiday spirit. Since we donated our gifts last week, my seven-year-old periodically says, “I feel bad. I can’t stop thinking about poor people.” I say, “good!” Make this an annual family tradition and eventually in 1-15 years, your child may start to understand that the true meaning of Christmas is in the giving, not the receiving. That’s the hope anyway!