Social Emotional Learning Elf

by Lisa Wzorek, OTD, OTR/L

This week I decided to do an experiment with our Elf on the Shelf.  Our son recently turned 10 but surprisingly (and gratefully on my part, I will add!) still believes in the magic of the Elf.  I won’t lie and say that the pandemic has been easy for us at home; our son is an only child and is participating in virtual learning, so his interaction with other kids his age is very limited. 

Like most families, we have good days and bad days with all of us at home together all day, every day.  Because I have such an interest in social emotional learning and adding that to my practice as an OT, I decided to experiment with the Elf as a partner in crime regarding helping my son’s outlook.  When he wakes in the morning, he will typically search for the Elf in the house.  Along with a surprise location of the Elf, I started leaving positive notes “written” by the Elf.  The notes always praise something good that he did the day before.  For example, Friday he cleaned his schoolwork area without being asked to, so on Saturday he woke up to a note that read, “You cleaned your school area without being asked! That is being a good helper!  Your Elf.”  Another note read, “Awesome job reading yesterday!”  Now, I know I did not invent this idea of a positive note-leaving Elf; I’m sure many other parents have thought about this as well!  Sometimes it is hard for us to think of the good things we are doing, but it certainly feels good when it is pointed out to us. 

Activities like this help us to keep focused on the positive things we are doing.  And, how nice to start the day with a compliment! So, what is the verdict on the experiment? I can report, although it has only been a week, that my son starts the day with a big smile and has been doing some things around the house without me asking him.  I would say, so far, so good!

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