This probably makes me a terrible parent, but.. I love The Elf on the Shelf. It's like.. the miracle parenting tool. You know why? Because my daughter HATES it.
Honestly, I didn't even realize we had it. When we unpacked the Christmas boxes this year.. there it was. I can only guess that we got it on clearance after Christmas last year. Excitedly I showed Lily the box and took out the elf. And she instantly disliked it. I tried to talk it up.. about how he was going to report back to Santa about everything she was doing- good and bad. We even read the book.
She decided she hated the elf and demanded it go back in the box. She didn't want anything to do with it.. she didn't even want to look at it. So.. back in the box it went.
I tried to bring up the subject again, but she didn't want to hear it. And then suddenly it dawned on me..
If that elf thinks bad behavior is going on.. he's going to want to come out of his box and check it out. I made sure Lily knew that as well.
Now? The mention of the elf coming out of his box to see what's going on stops her dead in her naughtiness tracks. Like.. dead, instant stop. This has never happened with any other tactic. Ever.
Lily's jumping on the couch? Do I need to get the elf? Bang- she's sitting down instead. Lily's screaming about not wanting to pee or brush her teeth or take a shower.. or whatever? Should I get the elf to come and help? No don't get the elf!! Don't get him! Okay, I'll do it. Lily's dragging her brother across the floor by his arm? What is that I hear- is that the elf getting out of his box? NO! Don't get him, don't get him! And she stops.
I don't think she's fearful of him. She just fully believes he's going to tattle. And she does not want Santa to get wind of any misbehavior on her part. Getting those Christmas presents from Santa is a powerful, powerful motivator for a 4 year old.