Elf on the Shelf: Are Elves worth using for good behaviour?

Madhavi Nawana Parker from Positive Minds Australia offers some sage advice around using Elf on the Shelf (and Santa) to encourage good behaviour in our kiddos, and it sheds a totally different light on the matter!

Well folks, it’s December, the month of festive frivolity and bonnie bribery ahead of the big guy making his way to town. Because hey, if we can’t encourage a little good behaviour ahead of the yuletide then when can we do it, right?

The Elf on the Shelf tradition has certainly cemented itself in many households, and who doesn’t love a bit of creative tom foolery in the aid of exalting in the mirth of the season whilst gently encouraging small humans to do exactly what we tell them to do?

elf on the shelf behaviour

But maybe we should think again!

Madhavi Nawana Parker from Positive Minds Australia has offered a different take on using Elf on the Shelf (and Santa) to encourage good behaviour, and it sheds a totally different light on the matter!

Madhavi is an absolute Guru when it comes to working with kiddos, so we reckon she might be onto something!

Is an Elf on the Shelf worth using to encourage good behaviour?

Beautiful parents, Elves are back…

Are they worth using (along with Santa), as surveillance for good behaviour?

I’d so love to believe the return of this guy could solve sibling conflict, non compliance, emotional meltdowns and whatever else comes up in typical family life, just by watching our children 24/7 and reporting back to Santa each night.

elves on the shelf

The same goes for Santa (he knows when you are sleeping…he knows when you’re awake…) you know the rest.

Is anyone noticing consistently better behaviour in their children out of fear of not getting a visit from the jolly man in the red suit? Unlikely.

Threats about Christmas as a behaviour management strategy

It can be so tempting to use the threat of Santa not visiting as a behaviour management strategy. Why wouldn’t we? We’re exhausted, (children included) and it’s the one time we can follow a tradition that could make children be ‘good’ out of fear.

If you have been telling your kids to be good or Santa won’t come this year…or that the Elf will report back to Santa if they aren’t nice to their brother or sister and Santa will be very cross, you’re not alone – and frankly it’s really not a big deal…

It would be hard to find a parent who hasn’t pulled these out from time to time…(Who can resist the temptation to use this novel approach on some days…and you know the kind of days I mean).

Just be aware, it could backfire on you.

elf on the shelf

Here’s why it could backfire

The truth is, the pressure that comes from this fear can actually make children behave even worse (yikes).

The end of the school year, often means lower resilience all round (them, you, their friends) which can mean worse than usual behaviour.

Let your Elf bring the magic without the fear

The Elf on the shelf and Santa (if they still believe) might better be placed serving the role of bringing magic, joy and laughter.

Not fear.

In fact, a naughty Elf doing cheeky things around your house can be just the emotional circuit breaker your children need when their behaviour gets off track.

elf on the shelf

Santa is coming no matter what

You and I both know Santa is coming, no matter what. You’ve got a bank statement to prove it.

Maybe we should consider leaving Santa and the Elf to do their thing, without adding the role of surveillance to their job spec?

Below you’ll find a range of possibilities for tricky behaviour to keep in mind, to help understand misbehaviour.

I hope it helps…

Helping to understand misbehaviour

  • They’re children, so they act childish. And no matter how wonderfully patient and skilled you are as a parent, their young, developing brains make behaviour mistakes – often.
  • Sheer exhaustion from a very big year, late night concerts and celebrations.
  • A lapse in boundaries around what is and isn’t okay. Children need reminders about how you expect them to behave in your home, other people’s homes and out in the community. This doesn’t mean they will always follow them, but it does mean your standards are clear and they’ll respect you for that.
  • Not having to take responsibility for intentionally harming, bullying or upsetting another person which leads to guilt and stress. If they are taking pleasure in hurting another person, they need to be told it’s not okay. If they are allowed to behave in ways that are less than they are capable of, their true goodness gets filled with doubt and guilt. This can lead to a behaviour landslide.
  • If they are behaving badly because they lack certain skills, it’s important they get the help they need to learn those skills. Children can get lowered self esteem when their actions annoy others – especially when they are trying hard to do the right thing.
  • Learning challenges.
  • Friendship issues they don’t know how to handle.
  • Feeling disconnected from people who matter to them.
  • Conflict in their environment.
  • Anxiety they need help with.
  • Poor impulse control.
  • Not enough time relaxing with family and friends, face to face.
  • Inadequate daily movement/exercise.
  • Not enough time outdoors.
  • Not knowing how to calm down.
  • Not enough laughter, creativity, play and silliness.
  • Too rushed.
  • Too much social media.
  • Too much time on devices.
  • Hunger.
  • Being bullied.
  • Being spoken to more about what they’re doing wrong than what they’re doing right

and so much more…

Don’t exacerbate what might already be going on

There’s always a reason why children struggle with behaviour. Being afraid Santa won’t visit might actually exacerbate what’s already going on behind the scenes.

Take care of yourselves during this busy time.

Be proud you got you and your families to the end of another school year, this year in particular.

A massive achievement in itself.

Thank you for reading. I’m off to see what ‘Boo’ is up to in our house – this morning he was found on the fan taking a joy ride.

He better not find my chocolate stash or I’ll be reporting him to Santa.

Here’s to a beautiful December folks.

xx ❤️ Madhavi Nawana Parker

Check out books for raising and teaching confident, resilient and socially, emotionally skilled young people here positivemindsaustralia.com.au/books/

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