Modern Day Santa: Time for Threats or Time for Connection?

"The festive season is upon us".

For some children this time of year is filled with excitement. Though for some children this time of year is filled with additional pressure, performance anxiety, worry and anxiety in general.

Let’s imagine..... Let's turn Modern Santa on its head and apply it to the adult workforce:

Imagine..... at work the boss (Jim) has announced his eyes will be on the workforce for the next 4 weeks. If we don’t perform….. We won’t get paid at the end of the month. Worried and confused, we don’t know exactly what he is expecting from us – what does he mean by “perform”. The pressure is on…… Sarah works harder than the lady sitting beside her all year……. Surely she can’t get paid and Sarah not. Rose has just taken up a new role and is trying to figure it out. Gerard’s parents are very sick and he has to mind them at night. The tension is building in the office.

In addition, imagine, Jim has announced that he has installed cameras that will be watching ALL THE TIME…..shock horror. AND a strange inspector will sit in the corner and takes notes on your work (our usual work space feels awkward with this INTRUDER in it). Just to add in more confusion all routine at work is changed. Lunch time, break times are changed. Workers are panicking to meet deadlines

So you can see this story is fictional! But is it too far a jump from parts of a child’s experience?

Elves watching, Naughty and good lists,santa cams, school plays, choir, with routine to school day changed, threats of Santa not coming if you don’t behave

But what is behaving? One day a child can jump on the couch the next a child can’t all depending on parents tolerance levels on the day. The goal posts can change. It can be confusing.

How would you feel if you were in the workspace desrcribed above? Anxious? Angry? Worried? Panicked? Threatned? Fearful?

So how did the message of kindness and goodwill get so mixed up?

Is Christmas about threats?

Is Christmas about “being watched” so that you perform your best at all times?

How are these messages (threats and always been watched) that are now becoming societal norms for Santa supportive to your relationship with your child?
They Are Not.

How can you communicate the meaning of Christmas that represents your own values of Christmas?

Christmas is a time of kindness and goodwill. It’s about the magic of childhood imagination. For us as adults Santa could be about that electric look of excitement in your child’s eye when they approach their Santa gifts. That LOOK, that checks to see if you are seeing what they are seeing too. The screeches or the silence. The love, the awe, the excitement, that warm feeling in your belly, that playful spirit……. spreading throughout your home.

Why not keep the message simple…… just as it is. Santa is about kindness and connection. Unconditionally.

About Cathy Daly

I am a mother of three children and Non-Directive Play Therapist. Passionate about play and childhood matters. I am a member of the Irish Play Therapy Association. I hold a B.A. in Psychology, a facilitator of the Circle Of Security parenting programme and have training in Filial Therapy. Read more about Cathy