Over Christmas we saw a lot of talk about Elf on the Shelf, and how it’s used to encourage good behaviour in children during the festive season. There are lots and lots of posts and articles with tips and guides on keeping kids in line with the aid of one of Santa’s helpers, and on the surface it’s nothing new really. We all remember being told to behave because ‘Santa is watching’ and to make sure we’re don’t get put on the naughty list. Parents are just a little more creative these days, with more elaborate positions for their cheeky elf and more weird and wonderful ways to ensure good behaviour during one of the most exciting times of the year. But what happens after Christmas? How do we deal with the post-Christmas excitement without a naughty elf to keep an eye on the kids?
You may not go in for the Elf on the Shelf, or ‘Santa’s watching’ theories yourself- but there is no denying that some children find the over stimulation of Christmas a little too much, which is why lots of families find the first weeks after the event particularly challenging. Lots of time spent at home, lots of presents to open, lots of excitement, relaxation of rules, later bedtimes- it all adds up in some cases and turns into a ticking time bomb. Once the elf has gone home, you’re on your own. But all is not lost and there are ways to restore calm. Here are a few tips for restoring calmness in kids after Christmas:
- Look at bedtimes. Over Christmas we tend to relax bedtime rules a little, so bring it back with some early nights- for you too! You’re much more likely to be able to deal with challenging behaviour when you are more rested too.
- Cut out the sugar. We all tend over-eat at Christmas and most houses are bulging with left over treats during January. It doesn’t have to be eaten straight away so hide it! Focus on healthy meals and snacks and see if the reduction in sugar has a positive effect on behaviour.
- Set some ground rules. There is no need to tell the kids that ‘the elf might come back’ or that Santa is still watching. Let your children know what you expect from them and why and be consistent with praise and with consequences. All children, no matter what age, need to know where they stand so make sure you’re clear.
- Re-focus your routine. Make sure the kids get up at the same time each day, even on weekends, and go to bed at the same time too. Stick to your usual bedtime routine and keep surroundings familiar. Most kids settle back into ‘normal’ life fairly quickly this way.
The fact that Christmas has ended can also cause changes in behaviour for some children too. Sometimes it can be hard coming to terms with no more new toys, or less special treats etc. If this is the case, take some steps to explain that while Christmas is over, it doesn’t mean that the fun has ended! Plan time to sit down and play with the new toys, write thank you letters and talk about the things you did as a family over Christmas. Talk about the next big event in your calendar and move on from Christmas with something else to look forward to.
Good luck, and let us know how you get on!