Move Over Naughty 'Elf on the Shelf,' These Kindness Elves are Taking Over


During the holidays as parents stress about getting perfect gifts, baking Pinterest-worthy treats, feeding their families, and keeping up with family holiday traditions, kids are often left a little less supervised than usual.

They know this. Sometimes, they bank on it.

That may not have been the sole factor that spurred the “Elf on the Shelf” craze, but after the debut of the book and toy elf in 2005, it’s become a staple in many homes. Plus, the very Grimm’s-fairytale-esque idea that elves are watching and snitching has been around for some time.

The toy itself is mostly a lighthearted game and a reminder to the kiddos to be good. The elf is a scout, hidden around the house to observe the behaviors of the boys and girls under its charge — though it also gets into all sorts of trouble itself (and begs the question “who reports on the reporting elf?”).

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Yeah, it’s a little creepy if you think about it too much. But hey, if Santa sees you when you’re sleeping and knows when you’re awake, then it makes sense that he’d send out his minions to do his work, too.

I’m not saying it’s okay, I’m just saying that it makes sense — unlike many other aspects of Santa.

The elf on the shelf supposedly reports on both kind and unkind acts, but most kids (and parents) seem to emphasize the negative side of that dichotomy.

Now, though, some enterprising people have developed a doll with not-quite-as-sneaky facial features that sits around the house and focuses on positive reinforcement and suggestions.

Many parents have found this a better use of dolls and time because instead of merely observing and participating in their own hi-jinks, they encourage kids to actively participate in kindness.

They suggest things like baking cookies and sharing them with friends, doing a simple chore for a neighbor, donating toys or gently used items to charities — anything that a child could handle.

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Plenty of parents have jumped on this bandwagon and have shared their own suggestions for acts of kindness, so while parents who decide to start this tradition will still have to do most of the work themselves, there are some great resources out there from people who have paved the way.

What do you think of this idea — is this something you could see your kids or grandkids enjoying?

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking