Oh the pressure of remembering to move the Elf and add a witty note! Why do we do this to ourselves? Aren’t our lives busy enough?
Are you part of the Christmas Elf craze?
What is your driving motivation for having an Elf, who I would like to call Smidge (just because we can)?
Are you stuck in the power play of “Santa’s watching – you’d better be nice”? You know, this didn’t work when I was a kid, so what would make parents think it’s going to work now with the sophisticated kid culture we have in the 21st Century?
Is having an Elf part of the ‘parent pressure’ caused by the social media frenzy around what presents as ‘perfect parenting’ especially during the festive season?
Or, do you have a Smidge around to increase the magic and fantasy of Christmas, with more Christmas fun involving this tiny visitor?
Rethink the power games
If Smidge is a means of keeping your child in check, monitoring your child’s behaviour in the hope they will magically be able to ‘control’ their behaviour because a toy Elf is ‘watching’ them – think again!
Children have always been aware of the power games with the adults in their world, especially with their parents. Kids are king when it comes to power games. No one likes to feel they are being manipulated, and children seem to pick up on this mode of interaction very early.
Power games, or trying to gain power over your children, can actually negatively impact on your bond with your child. Children need a healthy, open and trusting relationship with their carers to grow their independence of thought, ownership of behaviour, integrity and what psychologists call an external locus of control. This is when we grow to understand that we control our own behaviour not outside forces.
Manipulation of behaviour with threats of punishment of some kind, whether they are overt through punitive actions by parents or covert through the prying eyes of an elf, doesn’t set up a trusting relationship between parent and child.
You can however step off the social media pressure game and create your own family traditions with or without an Elf like Smidge.
Here are a couple of positive ways to use an Elf like Smidge:
- Use Smidge for the magic of surprise, just for fun or distraction, having it pop up anywhere in the house, anytime during the day or night.
- If Smidge does need to report back to Santa, maybe it can be a report on where the Christmas Tree is positioned in the house to make it easier for Santa and his helpers to move the presents in with ease. Or perhaps where the dog sleeps, so that Santa doesn’t disturb the dog during his midnight drop-off.
- Smidge can leave notes around the house commenting on the strengths your child has displayed during that day – “I noticed Jack was very kind to Sarah when he helped her pack up her toys today” or notes about how to be kind to others “I (Smidge) think it would be great if Zara wrote a note of thanks to her teacher today”
- Smidge can be visiting because it is important to learn the ropes of being one of Santa’s helpers and get the right information back to the North Pole.
- Smidge may be having a hard-earned break, because after a hard year’s work making presents, Santa lets all the elves take a break and holiday in a fun and loving household.
- Smidge could fly back to Santa just to report on the day’s adventures and keep Santa in the loop with the activities the family love to do like bike riding, playing basketball, board games or creating music together.
- If your child is having difficulty sleeping through the night, Smidge would be a great buddy to sit on a shelf, on the end of the bed or even on the pillow, to keep your child company, safe and secure for the night.
- Smidge could also become a special ear for a child to tell their worries to (like the African Worry dolls). Then Smidge could fly away and take the worries off into the night sprinkling them across the ocean waters and come back to rest with a, hopefully, calmer child.
Build integrity in your child
Remember that human integrity is to do the right thing, for the right reason, even when no one is watching; a little like as adults we don’t speed, not because we don’t want a speeding ticket, but because we know it is the right thing to do for ourselves and our community.
Trusting your child to do the ‘right’ thing when you’re not watching is the first step in them taking ownership of their behaviour. Remembering that as children this is a skill and quality that grows and changes daily as they do. Growth is never linear, so don’t expect an Elf to miraculously change their brain into being able to manage and control their behaviour – child development doesn’t work like that.
Teaching your child to take responsibility for their actions, rather than forcing a power-over situation on them with a toy Elf, will have a much more positive impact on your child’s behaviour as they grow and also your relationship with them.
You can get a lot more out of Smidge the Elf, by adding a positive note to the reason they are visiting rather than adding to an unnecessary and damaging power game. Use Smidge to add to the fun, the magic and the fantasy of Christmas for the whole family, it can be fun for you too.