AS PARENTS, WE USE MANY DIFFERENT TOOLS AND MOTIVATORS IN THE EDUCATION OF OUR KIDS. THESE CAN VARY AND/OR CONSIST OF A MIX OF REWARD SYSTEMS, RULES, AGREEMENTS, CONCESSIONS, AND THE USE OF EXTERNAL THINGS SUCH AS SANTA CLAUS TO GET OUR KIDS TO BEHAVE WELL AND LEARN THE WAYS OF LIFE. OF COURSE, THE TEACHING PART COMES FROM US, AND WE HAVE A LOT OF RESPONSIBILITY TO OUR KIDS TO EDUCATE THEM WELL AND HELP THEM THROUGH LIFE FROM THE TIME THEY’RE BORN TO WHEN THEY’RE OLD ENOUGH TO DO THESE THINGS BY THEMSELVES.
But have you ever wondered how the types of educational tools we’re using affect our children, and whether or not we’re doing more harm than good with them? I sure do. As a parent myself, I find myself overanalyzing all the things I use in the education of my kids, and whether or not I should continue on the same path, or if I should change a thing or two in the process. One of the things I use that has caused most debate within me is whether I should keep Santa Claus as a tool or not. I’ll tell you why.
After thinking about this for a long time before I had my first child, I came to the conclusion that Santa Claus had a lot to offer kids and parents alike. For one thing, it’s a reward system, meaning that if they are “good kids all year” they will get the presents they want. That works wonders — for about 3 months, but it works. Another thing I found Santa Claus offered us is that he teaches kindness, manners and that being good will give you good things in return.
I decided I would incorporate Santa into my kids’ lives because of these things, and also because I had it growing up and I really enjoyed the idea of a little kind and magical old man bringing me presents because he loved me. However heartbreaking it was when I realized it was all a myth, I knew it was still worth having that growing up. I also want to mention that when I did find out that Santa wasn’t a little old man with elves, I realized just how much my parents loved me and how much attention they had paid to what I wanted, and how much work they had put into all the Christmases we had had growing up.
So once I established that Santa was going to be a part of our lives for the next decade or so (we planned on having more than one child, so this prolonged the time Santa was going to be around), I wanted to know how to use Santa as a parenting tool the right way instead of “if you’re bad Santa Claus is going to see you and bring you a lump of coal”, which simply instils a form of fear in kids.
I came up with a few pointers when teaching kids using Santa Claus, while still making sure we as parents are also teaching our children valuable lessons:
Santa Claus vs Parents: How to Use Santa as a Parenting Tool
- Use Santa Claus as a teaching tool when it comes to teaching kindness towards others. Santa is a great example of how much joy giving to others can bring. You can use the joy they feel when they get gifts from Santa and teach them that they can bring that same joy to people when they give as well. This can lead to selflessness, generosity, and fulfilment, and they’ll thank you for those awesome qualities.
- Santa is a great teaching tool to use when you’re trying to teach your kids that when we work hard for something, we can get it. Yes, it’s not the same as teaching them through allowance and saving, or doing chores for the things they want; but it can be used in the light of “when you do good things, good things come to you as well”, i.e. being good will get you presents (in this case), or being kind will bring you kindness, giving to others will come back around to you, and so many other great lessons.
- The concept of “the naughty list” is another way to teach what happens when you do the opposite of the lesson above. I personally tried staying away from this part so as not to raise my kids in fear (because being on the naughty list is terrifying as a kid!). But teaching kids through the concept of a naughty list can potentially be beneficial if you so choose to use it correctly.
- I believe that the concept of Santa Claus knowing about everything you do all year is a little creepy, but when you think of it as you knowing how they’ve been behaving it makes a little bit more sense. This is a tool you can use to show them that everything they do counts, and that the good deeds they do throughout their life are seen and appreciated and acknowledged. It also motivates children in the 330 days that aren’t the Christmas season, which is a major plus.
There are many more amazing lessons you can teach your children through Santa Claus, and I highly encourage you to use these in your parenting life! I also highly recommend using Santa as a motivator and not a punishment as in “Santa won’t bring you anything this year because you’ve been bad!” They will like it a lot more in this light, and it is most likely to benefit you all as a family when seen in the light of a motivator.