Did Santa ever skip your house?

Last night my daughter had a colossal tantrum. My mom was meant to come and take both her and her brother out for dinner but because my daughter was misbehaving, crying and shouting for the better part of an hour, I made her stay home. That’s right. I’m a believer that if you don’t follow through on your threats, what good are they?

My daughter was upset that she didn’t get to go play in the jungle gym after we picked her up at daycare. I got down to her level and explained that I understood that she was upset, but we don’t go to the jungle gym on Tuesdays and her grandmother was coming to pick her up to take her out. She wasn’t having any of it. About 30 minutes in, I informed her that if she continued this behaviour she would not be allowed to go out with her grandmother and brother. She didn’t stop, so I had to follow through.

When my mom came to pick up my kids, she left with tears in her eyes and one very well behaved six year old. I, however, stayed behind with a crying, misbehaving and now sad three year old (and a growing need for alcohol and Ativan).

This got me thinking… so of course I tweeted:

During this time of year, I will often say, “Santa is watching, and if you don’t behave you won’t get any presents.” If my kids don’t behave after I threaten that Santa won’t give them presents, shouldn’t I then take away the presents?

I need to stop saying this. Honestly. It doesn’t really work and I’m not prepared to take away their Christmas morning. Even if it did work, great, I have kids who behave at Christmas time but what about the rest of the year? Once Christmas is over what do I use next?

People and kids alike need to behave nicely. That is the only way to coexist happily on this planet — all year round. I get that there are bad days and horrible moods but on the most part if you want to be a happy member of my family you need to behave and follow the rules. It’s pretty simple.

So, let me ask you this: Has anyone ever played the Grinch and not given a “naughty” child presents from Santa on Christmas morning? Lord knows it’s tempting to me sometimes.

  • Mary T.

    Never done that though I’ve been tempted…I did create one of those Magic Santa or PNP videos that explained to my 4 year old that she was on Santa’s “naughty” list –  but that she still had time before Christmas to “listen to mommy and daddy” and she’d be put back on the nice list again. She was glued to the computer watching the video and for the few days after followed through with her promise to be a good girl and listen to mom and dad. Reality is that she went back to her four-year old self and has thrown tantrums, yelled, misbehaved, not listened etc. I still use the “Santa isn’t bringing you any presents this year if you keep that up” but I too am afraid that I’d have to follow through with that threat and it truly would break my heart…how could I do that to my child???

  • Susantroy

    After Christmas you can always use ‘Santa said if you didn’t behave and listen I was to send your gifts back’.
    I also made PNP Santa videos.  I made a nice and a naughty one.  Depending on what kind of day my 3 year old is having I play the different videos.  When he gets the naughty one he immediately starts behaving better and when he gets the nice one he is even nicer because he is so happy.

  • Someone else’s Grandma

    You should never, ever make a threat to a child that you aren’t totally prepared to follow through on.
    First of all, they catch on to it much sooner than you think and then, when you eventually make a threat that you do plan on carrying out, it won’t work. What do you say to them then when you have essentially taught them not to expect a follow-through?
    Second, you need to measure the ‘cost’ to you and others of following through. I agree with your decision to follow through on keeping her home from the dinner date with her grandmother. The cost to you and her grandmother was probably worth it to teach the lesson.
    I’m not so sure that you want to have a similar experience happening on Christmas Day when the rest of the family is opening presents and she’s sitting on the sidelines howling. Is that how the kind of Christmas memories you want to create,not only for her but for everyone else in earshot? How will her brother feel if he is getting gifts and his sister isn’t?
    What misbehaviour on her part would be serious enough to generate the level of punishment that exclusion from the family Christmas would bring?
    Third, one of the ‘rules’ of child discipline is that it needs to occur close to the offense. If, on December 8th, she did something that brought your no-Santa threat into play, that will be long gone from her mind by December 25th. When her presents don’t appear, she won’t be capable of making that connection so it’s not an effective punishment and she won’t learn anything useful from it. The things she will take away from probably aren’t things you want her learning or remembering.

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