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I'm Avital.

You want a present, peaceful and playful family life? I'm here to help you make that a reality.

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STOP! Elf on a Shelf

Well this a bold statement, isn’t it?

I’ll get straight to the point: the Elf on the Shelf game is a misguided attempt at controlling your child’s behavior using rewards and punishments. And it’s guided by unrealistic expectations of childhood development.

Not to mention creepy. A spying elf? Or Big Brother?

As a W.E.I.R.D culture (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, And Democratic) who rebels and repels the ideas of surveillance and control, why do we insist on using it with our children?

Let’s stop that.

There is good news though. The tradition can be redeemed.

With a little bit of tweaking, you can make this game and ritual something that aligns with peaceful parenting. (And in case you haven’t noticed, peaceful parenting is kinda my THING.)

First, let’s break down the myth of this holiday tradition:

Punishments and rewards. The age old question of parenthood. To punish or not to punish.

At the heart of peaceful parenting lies the belief that our connection with our children is sacred. And that connection needs to be protected in order for us to maintain influence with our children. Punishment is always a disconnecting agent. It minimizes our influence.

Rewards are really just the other side of the coin. You can read more about my thoughts on punishments and rewards here, but essentially its a disingenuous way to control behavior.

The second issue with this game is the misunderstanding of bad behavior: whenever children are not successfully managing or regulating their emotions (we’re talking tantrums or screaming here) then it is labeled as Bad Behavior.

The problem with this is that it assumes the child made a choice to be bad. Which is misguided and a misunderstanding of childhood development.

When children meltdown or when they behave “badly”, it’s because they have a need that’s not being met. It might be that they’re hungry, they’re tired, or maybe it’s just not a developmentally appropriate expectation.

Children don’t behave badly because we haven’t sufficiently punished them or because we haven’t sufficiently rewarded them when they behave well.

It’s not because we haven’t manipulated them enough.

It’s because they need to learn those skills and because they need to mature and develop them.

So on to the good part: the redemption.

With a little creativity, you can turn this misguided game into a fun, peaceful tradition that fosters connection, kindness, and even empathy.

Ever heard of a ‘Kindness Elf’? Instead of spying and rewards, this Elf leaves small acts of kindness to the children (like sweet notes or cleaning up their toys), which encourages and inspires acts of kindness from the children.

How about the ‘Empathy Elf’? OK, I made that one up. But why not have your Elf become an extra listening ear to the children (and don’t we all need a little help from our friends on this one?)

Encourage your children to express their feelings to the Elf. Sadness, frustration at a sibling, gratefulnessBonus: this develops emotional intelligence, emotional regulation, and verbal skills. yes please! 

Speaking of learning skills, what about having your children practice reading to your Elf. Have you heard of the program where kids read to therapy dogs? So adorbs, right?

Adorableness aside, the program’s success is attributed to the low stress, low pressure environment dogs naturally manifest. Have you ever been around a puppy? Stress Level: Zero.

Promote your Elf to ‘Literary Elf’ this year. Encourage reading and story telling and even handwriting notes to the Elf. (just…maybe don’t tell your kids his new job title. 😉 )

An Elf that supports literacy on Christmas break? Sign me up for that tradition!

Need more ideas to help change the narrative of this holiday tradition from manipulation to kindness or empathy? Watch the video above!

And share with me in the comments your ideas! We can all benefit from you and your ideas!

Need GIFT IDEAS this holiday season? Download my holiday gift guide.

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COME FIND ME ON INSTAGRAM!

It’s that time of year… and this year is a little different.

So many of the ways we would usually celebrate the holidays may be out of reach. We might need to really prioritize putting our budget towards homeschool and educational stuff. We might need to be downsizing and minimizing more as we spend more time at home and our homes need to accommodate more activity for more of the time.

However this holiday season is coming upon you, whatever you’re experiencing - I’m holding space for you!

I know it might be a really painful, difficult or challenging time of year and maybe buying presents is the last thing on your mind.

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I’ve put together a list of my absolute favorite items that have truly “earned” their place in our lives and that I feel were worth the investment.

Instead of a video or a podcast this week, I've spent some time compiling this, I hope it's helpful!

Check out my Top 10 educational gifts that both you & your kids will love!
https://www.theparentingjunkie.com/gift-guide-2020 (clickable link in bio)
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Be a Scary Mommy this Halloween. 🎃

Or actually, don’t.

Confused?

Understandable.

First, let’s talk about these scary mom costumes. 🧟

We’ve all been these characters, at one time or another.

No, not a sexy pirate.

Or a Fire Breathing Dragon. (Was that just me?)

But actual, real scary moms.

Real moms, who, with the best intentions, set out to make Halloween fun and meaningful and, well…get lost along the way. 👻 Instead, opting to let their fears and anxieties lead the way.

See if any of these are in your closet.

🧡 Watch Scary Mommy Costumes >> https://youtu.be/j-6OBVCHLNU (or search the title on YouTube!)

If stressing about a Halloween costume is causing you to lose sleep, patience, or peace in your home: Let It Go. No matter how you choose to celebrate this year, your kids will remember the fun, laughter, joy, and connection with family. Not the costume.

Tell me in the comments: Have you ever worn one of these costumes? What are you willing to let go of this year? 👇👇👇
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It seems like there's still some residual lack of prestige or even respect for the very high skills, high stakes work that good parenting requires.

Personally, I run a business - which I love and brings me great joy and meaning - but I still feel that parenting is THE project of my life. It requires so much more of me and is going to be so much more meaningful and important than any job I could ever do.

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This one is small but mighty. Take just 9 minutes to shift your perception of this vital work you’re doing...

😍 Watch it here, boss >> https://youtu.be/xmL6Os3ecQI

Let’s approach our parenting like we would a CEO role in a business, and work toward mastery in our craft!
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Last chance to Depolarize with me! If you’re having trouble with intense conversations and heated topics these days... this is just a friendly reminder that I have something that might serve you!

Ten switches to flip in your conversations with people you love (or at least care enough about to have a conversation with, lol!)... these switches will help you manage your triggers, speak in a productive manner and come closer together rather than further apart.

Join Depolarize now >> www.theparentingjunkie.com/depolarize

On the following dates: October 22, October 29, November 5 (Thursdays at 11:00am, New York Time)

I will be holding exclusive, intimate group coaching sessions where I will be happy to help you navigate:

Holding boundaries with people whose opinions you’re finding toxic

Deciding how to handle polarizing topics as a parent

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You deserve to feel equipped to handle the tough conversations that come up in your family and friends - without it triggering you to the nines, depressing you, or pulling you away from people you love.

Even though times are extra polarizing right now, these skills are always useful as conflicts are inevitable in all relationships.

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1 comments

One Reply to “STOP! Elf on a Shelf”

  1. I have never played the elf game but was surprised it is about getting the kids to do certain things. Maybe my friends only place it around the house doing funny things 🙂 I thoroughly support your point of view though. I find that often I have seen mums getting upset at kids for not doing things they have no developmental grasp of yet. Even at playgroup, a mum I thought I knew well made fun of her toddler for repeating the same behaviours over and over again… which are essential for learning! Too often parents expect too much, or things only older children understand. I wish early childhood development was taught during pregnancy, for their sakes (I’ve studied it during psychology lectures and at school when I did some basic early childhood training)

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