Kids Health

This Fed-Up Mom Wants to Give Her Kids Coal for Christmas & Reddit Helps Her Navigate the Situation

As a parent, it can be tempting to try to eliminate bad behavior around the holidays by threatening your kids with the age-old Christmas legend: Only good children get presents from Santa — he watches your behavior all year to put you either on the Naughty or Nice List, and if you’re bad, you land on the Naughty List with coal instead of presents.

While most parents don’t take it past the threat, ultimately leaving presents from Santa under the tree, this Reddit mom is considering following through with a coal delivery due to her 9- and 6-year-olds’ continuous bad behavior. She explains that they’ve been “pushing my limits the past few months … [and] I told them they would get coal if they didn’t stop. I plan on doing so in order to make my point then letting them have their presents and Santa once the point is made so they know I am serious and not going to allow their disrespect.”

She continues, “But I’ve never done this. Should I give them coal in bed then leave presents under the tree? Put coal under the tree then get presents out of the closet? I don’t wanna ruin the magic but I also wanna make a point.” Clearly at her wit’s end, she asks, “Idk, am I being cruel? Just looking for advice and thoughts.”

Most Redditors met her with gentle criticism and alternative advice. One user wrote, “If you must make a point, make a point — because then there’s no point to the coal if in the end they get it all anyway.” They pivot, continuing, “Personally, I wouldn’t use Christmas as a punishment. I would deal with whatever the issue is in the moment. … If let’s say they’re talking back or hitting each other how is waiting for Christmas to punish them with coal and then giving them presents anyway going to teach them not to do that?”

Another Redditor commented, “Expecting children to behave for presents is not teaching them anything. It’s essentially bribery. It’s your job as a parent to teach children how to control their own behavior and continue to improve skills like good judgment and decision making. … I cannot fathom giving a child coal and even more I cannot imagine this being a long term solution to your children’s behavioral issues.”

“Don’t use gifts or Santa as leverage,” another user agreed. “Work on strengthening your own discipline skills through positive reinforcement and consistency. I would also try to avoid ‘threats’ of this kind as then you feel bound to them,” they wrote, suggesting, “Maybe start reframing things as ‘If you can manage yourselves better in ____ situation, we will have a fun day together on Saturday as a reward’ etc.”

Related story

This Reddit Mom is Appalled at Her MIL's Horribly Sexist Reaction to a Toddler's Christmas Gift