Elf on the Shelf is actually pretty bad for your kids, according to an expert 3 years ago

Elf on the Shelf is actually pretty bad for your kids, according to an expert

After a long 24 days of moving your resident Elf on the Shelf, it turns out the concept might not be the best idea for your children.

The Elf on the Shelf tradition has blown up massively over the last couple of years, and mums and dads across the globe have found themselves spending many hours trying to come up with elf antics but one expert warns we might be doing more harm than good.

According to US child psychologist Dr Vanessa Lapointe, the whole concept of the Elf on the Shelf tradition, where the elf pretty much spies on your kids and reports on their behaviour to Santa, could be rather harmful to children's mental health.

"Parents have been trying frantically to control their children's behaviour by making some kind of positive outcome contingent on good behaviour," Lapointe explains to Popsugar. "Be good and you get a star on the star chart. Be good and Santa will bring you a present. The problem is that this creates fallout emotionally and neurologically."

Lapointe explains that contrary to popular belief, good behaviour is not something that can be conned. "When adults get up to tricks and strategies to try and control children's behaviour, two not-so-great things happen. The first is that the child intuitively senses in the adult a struggle to control, which must mean that the adult doesn't really have it going on. A capable, competent, in-charge adult wouldn't need to rely on tricks and strategies to control the child. The second is that the child feels 'played' by the adult."


The problem, the expert explains, is that this can end of creating a sense of disconnect between the children and adults. "Scientifically, we know that a child's most essential need for healthy development is a deep and trusting relationship with their parent," says Lapointe. "So this is not something we should mess around with."

Essentially, by introducing the Elf on the Shelf, if he is there to spy on your kids' behaviour, you could end up risking their future emotional health.

"Emotionally, when children learn that acceptance and acclaim flow from acquiescing to the will of another, it doesn't take much to see how self-concept is impacted. Now fast forward to this child's adolescence . . . is it any wonder they have succumbed to peer pressure?"

What do YOU think, mamas? Do you have an Elf on the Shelf in your house? Is he there to spy? Let us know in the comments!

Main image via Etsy