You better watch out!
Better not cry!
Better not pout!
I’m telling you why...
He sees you when you’re sleeping.
He knows when you’re awake.
He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake...
Let’s read the words...remember children are literal...Who am I watching out for?
A guy with a big white beard, with magical powers, who flies through the air...yikes, if he can make things fly...what else can he do!
...you better not cry...
But mommy and daddy, I’m scared, it hurts, they hurt my feelings...BUT you better not cry!
...you better not pout...
What does it mean to pout...even when I am upset and don’t get my way, I can’t express my feelings...is this the message we want to teach our children...not to express feelings?
...he sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you're awake, he knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake!
We see more and more children with sleep disturbances; many of them are quite normal and appropriate, but many are not...one of the biggest family issues with time is “how do I get my child to bed?" Many families are using this song and songs like this to coerce children to go to bed under the threat of “he’s watching you.” What mental images does this child conjure up for a child? What fantasies does this evoke?
We all dream, some more visual and memorable than others. Children also dream, have nightmares and even night terrors, which are developmental, evoked by the day-to-day emotional conflicts children encounter...they hold it together through the day and release it at night, often in their dreams.
What I am suggesting is not to ban songs but to understand the subtle implications that this song evokes. How do we help a child gain the understanding of Santa, of the season, of their feelings that fit their developmental level?
WHAT TO DO...
- Be with your child.
- Understand your child. Are they too literal? How active is their imagination? Do they have a tendency to be timid or fearful? Are they experiencing developmental phobias – animals, noises, drains, shadows or darkness?
- Listen to the words, help children understand the words...what do you think “pout” means? Do you know anyone who cries? Why?
- LOVE your child and reassure your child that you will keep them safe.
- Read or tell stories without pictures, so children can fabricate their own images...they will only imagine what is safe for them.
- Use silly childhood humor not adult sarcasm.
Today Mr. Z spoke on KPLR 11 about using Santa as a threat.
The story is also on KPLR 11 website