It’s that time of year again where parents all over the country start bringing out some creepy looking Elf to wander around the house and cause some sort of mischief. I’m not sure when Elf on the Shelf started, but I understand why it’s become such a big thing. Having someone to help encourage good behaviour out of children is always going to be successful. But, at this stage in my parenting journey, Elf on the Shelf isn’t something I want to do. I think maybe I’m missing the point, but I’m just going to try and add a little bit of balance to this and give you 5 reasons why we don’t want to do Elf on the Shelf.
Bear in mind whilst you’re reading this that I am a massive over thinker. I think of all the silly little details when it comes to parenting and it’s probably due to having a background in psychology. I also like to play devil’s advocate and try to question the things that we do. I’m never here to judge, just to question, discuss and think about what we do.
5 Reasons why We’re Not Doing Elf on the Shelf
I currently have a toddler who’s 20 months old. If I said to her “be good or Santa won’t bring you any presents” she wouldn’t give a single shit and just look at me as if to say “bitch, I don’t know no Santa.” So this isn’t a viable option for me even if I wanted to use it.
There’s also a strong chance I’m missing the point. To some, Elf on the Shelf is less about controlling their children and more about having a fun annual tradition to do as a family. For that I think it’s great. And possibly a reason I’ll do it in the future.
I’m always willing to change my parenting style and go with something I once thought I wouldn’t. Just ask me now what I think of Peppa Pig and I’ll tell you she’s never going to watch it. Check back in three years time and you might see a room decorated with some annoying twat pig. Either way, let’s get on with this list.
1. The Elf Looks like a Creepy Little Shit
First up, even if you like the idea behind Elf on the Shelf, you have to admit that he’s a creepy little shit. Just look at him.
He’s not cute. He looks like a future molester. Heck, I’d even guess that he’s on a list, and I’m not talking about the naughty or nice one. And the fact that he REALLY wants to come into your home and spy on your children should be ringing alarm bells.
Now if you do want to do the whole ‘Elf on the Shelf’ idea, at least go with an Elf that doesn’t look like he wants to murder the family. Or maybe a penguin. Just use a penguin.
2. He’s a Massive Hypocritical Knob head
So let me get this straight. This whole Elf on the Shelf thing is designed for this Elf to help parents out by snitching on your children to Santa? Meanwhile he likes to unroll the toilet paper, take a bite out of some chocolate – we all know you did it – or generally just be a bit of a knob head. Wouldn’t Santa send him a message and go “look mate, you’re being a bit of a dick.”
He’s hardly leading by example is he? He should be coming into your house and helping to unload the dishwasher, not inappropriately engaging with cuddly toys. If we was to ever do this I wouldn’t have a mischievous elf, I’d have a helpful that gives Isabelle a hand doing the dusting. I at least want to get some work out of the dude.
Personally, I think that this teaches children that you should be good and well behaved unless you’re in a position of power. But when you have control you can do whatever the hell you want. Get on the inside with Santa and you can smash the place up. As long as you rat out someone else in the meantime.
This also brings up the slightly creepy idea that someone is always watching you.
3. It’s Big Brother Surveillance Which is Just Creepy
The reason I don’t do certain things like murder and steal isn’t for fear of getting caught. It’s because I believe that they are morally wrong. But Elf on the Shelf doesn’t teach that. It simply teaches children that you shouldn’t do things if someone will catch you. And that there’s a creepy old man who’s watching every little thing that you do.
God that’s an awful GIF.
Moving on, what happens once the Elf has pissed off back to the North Pole? Then what? Where’s your threat of being watched now? You can hardly tell your child that they won’t get any presents in March. Would they really care about that then?
No, I like the idea of my daughter understanding and fully absorbing rules and why we have them. If I can’t effectively explain to her why we do and don’t do things, then maybe I have to question why that rule exists.
Having an Elf come into the house for a month that helps your children be well behaved might not be such a bad idea. It’s certainly better than just having a spy looking to rat them out. But there’s a part of me that still doesn’t like the idea that kids should be good to please Santa.
4. Being Good to Please Santa
I know Santa can be an effective way of getting kids to do stuff and be well behaved. It’s basically the children’s version of religion. So I totally understand why someone would use it. But there’s a part of me that really doesn’t like it.
I don’t like the idea of Isabelle being well behaved purely to please some fictitious guy who will reward her based on her efforts. I don’t really want her doing things based on the rewards that she might get in return. Which brings me onto rewards and punishments.
5. I don’t like the idea of Rewards and Punishments
I’ll be honest, I likely won’t be able to explain this one fully as it probably deserves a post on its own. But since I’m not at this stage in my parenting journey, I don’t feel like I can realistically talk about my thoughts and feelings on rewards and punishments. But I can say that I don’t like them. And here’s why.
What I don’t do in my life is reward or punish adults. If I come home from work and see that my wife has cleaned the house I don’t pat her on the back, call her a “good girl” and buy her a present. Equally, if she has laid around the house all day, I’m not going to send her to her room or refuse to let her watch EastEnders later on that night.
I understand that a child is different from an adult, but I want to treat my daughter as close to an adult as I realistically can. What Elf on the Shelf teaches – and Santa in general – is that Christmas is dependent entirely on their actions. That what they get, and perhaps to them how much they are loved, is dependant on whether they behave or not.
It incentivises good behaviour on a materialistic basis, rather than based on moral or ethical values.
I don’t want my daughter to do good things for the reward. That’s not why I do good things. I want her to want to do those good things because she actually likes doing them. Same with the bad things. I don’t want her to not steal or punch someone out of fear of punishment. I want her to understand that they are thing that we just don’t do.
I’m probably missing the point and Elf on the Shelf is actually just a bit of fun
I actually laughed at that GIF believe it or not.
Look, I’m not here to judge. Do I look at parents who do Elf on the Shelf and go “oh, you shouldn’t be doing that” in my most patronising, wankery voice? No chance. I think most people genuinely enjoy doing it, they think it’s a bit of fun – which it probably is and I’m a huge bellend – or perhaps their kids really like it and they’re the type of parents who like making their children happy. Heaven forbid!
I honestly don’t know. I’m not in a position where I could realistically do this anyway. Maybe in a few years time I’ll want to do it. I don’t think I’d use an Elf, or at leat I’ll find one that doesn’t look like a pervert, and I won’t make him a mischievous little arsehole. Or maybe I will.
There’s a strong chance I’m really missing the point on this one. Maybe over the next month I’ll see the fun people are having with Elf on the Shelf rather than the controlling aspect of it and change my tune. I’m always happy to change my thoughts and maybe in a few years I’ll look back on this post and think “Shut up, Ross, you utter twat.”
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