If you don't have young kids you may have avoided this new trend.
We, however, are in the thick of it.
Elf on the Shelf.
We started reading the story to him and realized quickly that:
A. He was getting really freaked out.
B. This was turning into a behavior modification thing and I didn't love that.
Thankfully this was before he could read so I made up the rest of the story and took the book away. So, here's how we combat A and B and why.
A. Eliot's imagination creeps him out sometimes. He loves Toy Story but can't separate the reality from fiction and sometimes gets nervous having toys in his room any bigger than an action figure. Creating a story about an elf who is ALIVE and WATCHING HIS EVERY MOVE (but acting as a statue) just confirmed his irrational fears. So, we remind him almost daily that he's not real and it's just a game of hide and seek. Also, the elf is not allowed in Eliot's room. Ever.
B1. As a former teacher I tend to shy away from temporary quick fixes with behavior*. I don't love manipulating children to behave for the month of December because I don't want to have to come up with another thing to force them to behave in January.
B2: Also, we want Eliot to know that Christmas isn't about him. He can't earn or un-earn (it's a word, I promise) the celebration of Jesus' birth. It happened. We give gifts as an outpouring of our thankfulness. We want Eliot to know he gets presents and celebrates Christmas because he's loved. Plain and simple. He doesn't earn his gifts, he gets them because he's a part of our family. If his behavior during December warrants major action, there's other consequences in place to address those that have nothing to do with the date on the calendar.
We still add Okra (our Elf...full name Okra Homa) to our festivities because Eliot loves the excitement of finding him each morning. (sidenote: I set an alarm on my phone that rings at 9 each night to remind me to move him. Also, Pinterest has tons of creative ideas of places/ways to hide him. Use your resources, people.)
*I'm not above bribery in certain instances. You should have seen the promises made before and during our last photo shoot...
I'm not trying to knock Elf on the Shelf or it's originators or those of you to implement it as is. As it's presented, though, it just doesn't work for our family. We still love it, just an amended version of it.