When it comes to parenting styles, my husband and I tend to lean more towards a no-nonsense stern approach and treat our children as if they were tiny adults. Once they hit the age of two or so, we dropped the “baby” talk and spoke to them very much like we speak to each other. As far as discipline, we enforce a bedtime, require them to complete a chore or two a week and demand they are polite, caring and respectful of each other and everyone around them. All in all, this was working – until recently.
Perhaps it’s a mental growth spurt or the recent change to our schedule, but both of my children have reached a new plateau of attitude, sassy-ness and the increasingly frustrating, “tune mommy and daddy out”. The Santa/Jesus threat was becoming ineffective and I could see bad habits forming.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. I came across a website that sends children a video message from Santa based on information you feed its query. I could determine whether they would be placed on the Naughty or Nice List, the exact issue they need to improve upon, and other pieces of information they could identity with.
I toyed around with the program and reflected on the possible damage I could cause by customizing the program to have them placed on the Naughty List. Would they be traumatized with Santa’s verdict or would they take the analysis and turn their attitude around? I decided to take my chances and customized two messages to deliver the “naughty” verdict. The result?
After several tears, shock and a touch of denial, both of my children heeded Santa’s request to try harder. In fact, the video never specifically tells them they are on the Naughty List. Santa simply tells them they are not on the Nice List, but ensures them that they are very capable of finding themselves on Nice List over the course of the next few weeks.
Their demeanors were pleasant. Please, thank you and you can go first, were shared between them and I was no longer repeating myself. Whether this will last beyond the next few weeks is difficult to determine, but I would say that presently, this gentle reminder from Santa is working like charm – so much so that I am thinking the children will receive another message from Santa very soon with much happier news!