Published On: Sun, Aug 17th, 2014

Potatoes in the Santa Sack

Danielle Mantakoul

Every year I speak to thousands of parents in early childhood settings. Not much surprises me anymore during these talks, but what is stopping me in my tracks is that there has been an increasing number of times where I have heard parents talk about putting potatoes in their child’s Santa sack to teach them some lessons from the past 12 months.

I can totally understand why some parents may do this. They are trying to teach their kids a lesson in consequence, and I can certainly appreciate the thinking here. Do this… and that happens.

While I’m all for consequencsad christmase method, consequence is best served warm and in relation to what the child has done. Spill your milk, clean it up, hit your brother, go sit by yourself for a while.

Potato’s in the Santa sack may sound good in theory to many. After all, no matter what your child’s currency, age or sex, what kid wants a potato instead of a present. We can easily believe it’s pretty much a guaranteed lesson, however this is not the case. For a start, kids who pull potatoes out of sacks simply move on to the next present half listening to that voice in the background telling them on the appearance of a potato “I told you, there’s a lost toy right there”!

The potato in the Santa Sack strategy can be rather convenient for us as parents, as we proudly believe we are teaching them a lesson with little impact on ourselves. We don’t have to put up with a tantrum or loud protesting with this strategy. Even a child will tell you there is no time for a tantrum Christmas morning! The behaviour management we are dishing out is useless.

But all that aside… Christmas is meant to be a day full of joy especially for our kids, not a day where we aim to cram a behaviour lesson or two into their Santa sack. Keep the potatoes in the kitchen, and the smiles around the tree.

By Danielle Mantakoul
Copyright 2014

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