Before I became a mom, I stood firm on what I would and wouldn’t do as a parent. I will never raise my voice at my kids. I will never let my child have a tantrum in public. Good thing I didn’t sign any contracts, because I’ve failed in most promises I made to my “before kids” self. However, one promise I made pre-motherhood is one that I am now embracing – I use Santa Claus as a threat to correct bad behavior.
I know that this threat will expire soon and that it will never have the same impact with my first child versus my third child (I imagine the older siblings will rat me out and call me a liar). But until that day comes, here are three tactics that I use to obtain good behavior with the help of Santa Claus:
1. Call Santa Claus @ (951) 262-3062 (You’re Welcome!)
When my son is misbehaving, I abruptly leave the room and announce that I’m calling Santa. Seven out of ten times, I get the reaction I’m looking for. I make a faux call to the North Pole, which are quite comical and Oscar-worthy (I’d like to thank my middle school drama teacher for my acting chops). The phone call usually goes something like this:
Me – “Hi Elf, can I speak with Santa if he isn’t too busy? Thanks!”
Son – *crying hysterically*
Me – “Hey Santa! It’s me, Mrs. Scinto. Yeah, I got a situation. You can hear him? Yep, he’s acting up again. Oh, you can put him on the naughty list? OK, thanks Santa!”
By this time, his whining has mellowed, since he’s listening in on my conversation with St. Nick. I can then talk with my hot-tempered son or calm him through a tantrum with reasoning and love.
2. Santa Claus = Big Brother
I’m also guilty of claiming that Santa Claus reviews footage of being honest (the irony) and being kind. I know this sounds like some Big Brother stuff (perhaps I should go by “George Orwell” instead of “mom”), but I promise that I do this to correct my son’s behavior and cause him to reflect upon his actions.
This tactic seems to work best when I catch him in a white lie, like when he blames his two-year-old brother for something I’m confident he did. I simply say, “I will review the camera later,” which are magic words. He then quickly owns up to his bad behavior and apologizes for being dishonest. We then talk about taking ownership for your actions, whether it’s telling a white lie or being kind to others.
3. Send Letters from Santa Claus
My mother-in-law started to send letters from Santa a few years back, but my boys were too young. I think the golden age for this letter to work a Christmas miracle is between ages four and five, which is close to my boys’ current ages. This summer, we got a postcard from Santa (my mother-in-law) that featured Jolly St. Nick on the beach, relaxing before he ramps up for the holiday season. The postcard included ways to get on the nice list – be kind to others, listen to your parents, clean up your toys, and brush your teeth before bed. These seem like easy expectations for children, but the arrival of the postcard in the summer was a nice reminder for my kids. You can also customize the letter, or just keep to the standard letter.
What I’m doing works for right now
Admittedly, I use these tactics year-round, but they’re especially effective during the last four months of the year. I gently remind my son that Santa’s watching and if he misbehaves (not sharing, being mean on purpose, etc.), then Santa won’t leave him gifts. I know that my time is limited where all I have to do is mention Santa Claus and tantrums subside. But you better believe that I will milk this for as long as I can.
Are there other good behavior tactics that you use during the holidays? Share in the comments below.