A New Elf on the Shelf Plan for 2014

December 9, 2014

Elf on the Shelf

Do you ever feel like you need to mix it up a little?  Like it’s time to do something different?

As I jumped out of bed to pose our two elves last night, (yes, we have two, a girl and a boy, to encourage gender equality) I thought, “I’ve got to find a way to harness the power of the elves a little more”.

We are so lucky that the Elf on a Shelf trend hands us this opportunity, wrapped in a package of fun and magic.  I can’t believe I haven’t been taking advantage of it before now.

As a psychologist, I can tell you that it doesn’t work to just tell kids to “Be Good”.  Even if you spell it out with M & Ms.  And believe me, I have shamelessly tried this tactic on multiple occasions.

But what if I give my children a specific daily challenge?  Something small and powerful they have to accomplish each day. We all want our children to be positive, loving, caring, altruistic people.  Our elves give us one more creative way to teach these lessons.

Part of this idea came from my good friend Kevin Hoffarth, a wonderful physician who inspires people every day to be kind and loving humans. He posts challenges on facebook for his friends and families to take part in each day, to focus their attention on what it truly means to be a good person.

So following Kevin’s lead, I will do the same thing for my children.

Each night, I will still pose our little elves in ridiculous positions (using a plethora of candy, toys and stuffed animals to actually catch their attention).  But I will also leave my elves with a simple note with a daily challenge.

Here’s my list so far.  I need your help coming up with some other ideas to add to it.

1) Do a secret act of kindness, and don’t tell the person you did it.

2) Help a friend at school.

3) Do one of your brother’s or sisters’ chores (and don’t complain about it).

4) Clean up trash somewhere outside that wasn’t yours.

5) Smile at a child at school that you don’t know.

6) Invite someone new at school to play with you and your friends.

7) Help someone younger than you do something that is hard for them.

8) Choose a charity to give some of your savings to.

9) Put together bags of goodies and toiletries and have your parents give them to the homeless.

10) Make a picture for your teacher telling her that you appreciate her.

I think it will be fun at the end of the day to talk about how the children fulfilled their challenge and how they felt when they did it (sorry, I can’t resist.  Too many years in a therapist’s chair).

Please leave me comments with some other ideas. I need all the help I can get!

 I’ll let you know how it goes…..


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  • Reply Pieces to Patch December 9, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    This is so inspiring. It’s important to teach our children to be kind, loving, and caring humans. I know you have this already listed; our church makes Love Boxes (toiletries and other items that will fit in a shoe box) to give to a Women’s shelter. They can even donate one of their toys to a hospital’s children’s play room.

  • Stephanie Palmer
    Reply Stephanie Palmer December 9, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    Oh thanks for that idea! I will definitely add “Donate a Toy” to the list. That’s got to be on there.

  • Reply Jessica Weleski December 11, 2014 at 12:17 am

    What a lovely idea! Maybe you could add to the list with say please or thank you to 2 people today when they do something that you ordinarily would forget to thank them for.

  • Reply Sarah December 20, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    I don’t have elf on a shelf, but I think you’re list is great for things kids should be encouraged to do. I might pull it out and use it when my kids need some reminding about the important things in life. Something that could be added I wondered, is visiting a grandparent or important/special older person in their life and spending time talking to them/doing things with them.

  • Reply Amy Hatlevig December 25, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    What a great idea! Adding to the idea listed by Sarah above…give a friend or family member a phone call to say hello or I Love you or to wish them a good day! You could also add something for your pets…give your pet a brushing today or put out some feed (or bread crumbs) for the neighborhood birds. A final idea… leave a special “sweet dreams” note or picture on someone’s pillow tonight…. Merry Christmas!

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