When the 'naughty and nice' list goes too far - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

When the 'naughty and nice' list goes too far

(Source: AP) (Source: AP)
A psychologist warns against using Elf on a Shelf, saying it teaches children that how they behave should be dictated by the rewards they receive. A psychologist warns against using Elf on a Shelf, saying it teaches children that how they behave should be dictated by the rewards they receive.
(KFVS) -

Nearly every parent has said it.

"You better be good or Santa won't bring you any presents for Christmas!"

"The Elf on a Shelf is watching and will tell Santa if you're good or bad."

"You don't want to wind up on the naughty list and get a lump of coal in your stocking!"

But what message are you sending to your kids by categorizing them as naughty or nice?

An article recently posted on Babble, a parenting website sponsored by Disney, questions when Santa's "naughty or nice" list goes too far.

The author cites a clinical psychologist who warns that an ongoing threat of a naughty list can be detrimental to the well-being and self-esteem of some children.

Another psychologist warns against using Elf on a Shelf, saying it teaches children that how they behave should be dictated by the rewards they receive.

The Babble article also asks how wealthy or poor kids can interpret if they are naughty or nice by the number of gifts they receive.

According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, 45 percent of children live in low-income families with 22 percent of children in families with incomes below the federal poverty level.

For those those who may only receive a few small gifts, how do they internalize if they are naughty or nice or if their friend had more presents than them?

And then there's the issue of how the Santa story can affect a child's faith in God.

So what's a parent to do?

  • One child advocate recommends keeping the stories of Santa and Jesus separate.
  • Focus on gratitude and service. 
  • Tell the Santa story with more mystery.

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