Are You Using Santa As a Threat?


(Photo credit: George Eastman House)

Christmas is such a magical time of year for children young and old alike. But the most magical piece for little ones is Santa. So why do adults insist on using him as a threatening figure?

Sound familiar?

  • Do you want to be on the naughty or nice list? Then you better do what I tell you.
  • If you don’t listen, Santa is going to put you on the naughty list. (For the smallest of infractions, I would like to point out.)
  • If you aren’t nicer to your brother/sister, you’re not going to get anything from Santa.

Santa is jolly. He is friendly. He’s the happy neighbor we all wish we had. Instead, parents are turning this warm man into a judging, maniacal, power-hungry jerk who would put someone on the naughty list for sneaking a taste of chocolate or not sitting still.

And don’t even get me started on the Elf on the Shelf! The Elf is supposed to be a sweet representative of Santa, not some evil eye for the old man.

It saddens me to think how parents use Christmas time as a way to control their kids. Kids behave well not through threats but through positive reinforcement. The joy kids get from hearing how well they’re doing is so much more powerful in developing well-behaved kids.

In our house, even when things go wrong, I tell my son he is a good kid with a good heart. That is what matters to Santa. Being human means we all mess up sometimes. Being a good person means we apologize and try harder the next time.

EVOLVE: Does Santa rule the roost at your house?



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