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Ways Your Elf-on-the-Shelf Can Encourage Good Behavior

Every Christmas our family gets a visit from a red fleece-clad elf named Rose. She usually arrives well into December so that she only has a few days of tricks to play and treats to leave before Christmas. And although she is a quiet guest, she doesn’t always represent what the holidays are about.

So, instead of Rose just being a symbol of Santa voyeurism, I have come up with some ways that she can help my kids focus on the true spirit of Christmas.


1. Show kindness to others

During Rose’s first arrival to our home, she brought with her a focus on acts of kindness. Our little elf let the kids know through a series of notes that they were on a mission from Santa to spread love and good cheer. Each note gave them a different task that must be completed before the big man in red could make his arrival. Some of the tasks included helping a sibling pick up toys, bringing cookies to a neighbor, or creating care packages for kids in the hospital.

While Rose handwrote her notes, Over The Big Moon has some printable good deed cards that your elf can utilize during this season of giving.

2. Encourage a healthy lifestyle

It is almost impossible to avoid the sweets and treats during the holidays. But, December doesn’t have to be a complete free-for-all. Your elf might be a great motivator to get little ones moving or creating healthy snacks that even Santa would approve of.

If your elf needs some inspiration, here is a list of Christmas-themed yoga poses for kids, and a recipe for Banana Snowmen that would be a tasty treat for even the sweetest tooth.

3. Treat others with respect      

With sugar at every turn and school break sleep schedules, the holidays can be a time of bad behavior. While the threat of Santa’s disapproval is sometimes enough of a deterrent, sometimes children need a friendly reminder to correct their bad habits.

Last year, when my children’s fighting had become more than I could bear, Rose wrote a note to them that said the yelling was hurting her tiny elf ears and that she would have to leave early if they couldn’t quiet down. Although Rose’s reminder didn’t create a fight-free zone forever, it did give me the opportunity to remind them that we treat each other with love and respect.

While, an elf isn’t a substitute for good parenting, they are a fun way to not only allow children to experience the magic of Christmas, but also to create an atmosphere of kindness and love throughout the holiday season. 

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About the Author

Jessa McClure

Jessa McClure

Jessa is the Editor-in-Chief of Hooray for Family and the mom of three energetic children. She has a BA in Mass Communication/Journalism from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, and is a long-time resident of Central Texas. When she isn't writing and editing, she enjoys playing board games with her kids, teaching Sunday school and channeling her creativity into craft projects. 

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