Demagoguery. That's what I think of this whole Elf On The Shelf charade. It's fear mongering.
I'm a little late to the game but my son was too young for it last year. We decided to play this year and ours arrived yesterday.
The idea is for this little snitch elf that you give a name - ours is Dino - to act as Santa's tattle tale. You place him in random locations in your home and tell your children that he comes back every morning after snitching their behavior to Santa Clause.
The hiding part is fun but pretending that Dino is watching out for bad behavior, in my opinion, reinforces bad behavior. We use Positive Discipline in our home so constantly pointing out bad behavior that the elf would have to report was bringing more focus on bad behavior.
I also don't like having to threaten my child with something I'm not really willing to follow through with.
Oh if you don't get your coat on Dino will have to tell Santa and Santa won't bring your presents!
You better eat your breakfast or Dino will tell Santa!
Now really, am I going to withhold presents on Christmas Day because of this? No.
This feels so manipulative.
We went along with it for about two hours. By midmorning I told my husband Clayton that I was not down with this. He agreed that it felt odd to be using such threatening language with our son in a way we usually do not. And in his words:
"Does it teach him that he doesn't need to be good the rest of the year? Won't he think, 'Well the Elf is gone so I can be a little shithead'?"
You may be thinking, "Oh knock it off, it's just a game." Perhaps. But if I follow through with the game then I'll have to parent with negative reenforcement which is not my style.
We decided to ease up on the threatening-to-tattle-to-Santa part and instead pretend that Dino is a friendly Christmas visitor who likes to tell Santa how much our children have grown and changed in the last year. Besides, my two year-old is scared enough of Santa Clause - no need to give him another reason to dislike the dude if he thinks that he sends creepy little elves to spy on him!