I first heard about Elf on the Shelf from parents on Facebook. And I quickly realized that Elf on the Shelf is a hot topic. Parents have strong opinions about it – they either love it or hate it. I’ve read brutal posts and comments about this little Elf and the parents who post their daily Elf pics all over social media.
Related: What I’ve Learned About My Parenting Style From Elf On The Shelf (via Latinamom.me)
Christmas (like all holidays) is difficult for my son, Norrin to understand. So we try to find fun ways to help build anticipation. And I thought it was a cute idea, so I purchased one.
Before you roll your eyes, here are a few things you should know about me:
- I’m not crafty. At all. So don’t expect DIY mini furniture for our Elf from me.
- I have no imagination to think of creative ways to pose our Elf.
- We live in a small 2 bedroom apartment – there are only so many ‘shelves’ for our Elf.
- I’m busy. I work full-time (outside of the home) during the day and I write at night. And meals need to be cooked, clothes washed…
- I’ve woken up and have forgotten to move the Elf (more than once). I just move him over to another shelf, on the same bookcase.
- I’m not big on holiday decorating. We put up our tree a few days before Christmas. I don’t even send Christmas cards because I don’t have the time.
So why do I bother with The Elf on the Shelf or “Elfee” as Norrin calls him. Because Norrin likes it. It helps him understand Christmas.
5 ways the Elf on the Shelf can help kids with autism:
Encourages Imagination. Imaginative play doesn’t come naturally to Norrin. It’s had to be taught. Christmas is such an abstract concept for him to understand. We read the book and we talk about Elfee and Santa Claus. It all helps to connect the dots.
Teaches Basic Play Skills. Every morning when Norrin wakes up, I ask him about Elfee. He gets this huge smile and runs to the spot from the day before before looking around the room. It’s like playing hide and seek every morning. I don’t help him. He has to search and find Elfee on his own. And when Norrin finds him, he is so proud!
Builds Anticipation. Norrin knows when Christmas is and he looks forward to it. But the days leading up to Christmas feel like an eternity for kids – especially kids with autism who have difficulty understanding the concept of time. Elfee helps build up to the excitement. It makes the waiting for Christmas fun.
Prompts Communication. We read the book, we talk, Norrin asks questions. When I was talking about Santa, Norrin asked questions. What’s Santa’s last name? Where does he live? Where’s the North Pole? Elfee, Santa and Christmas are things that Norrin is interested in. Anything that gets him talking and engaging with us, I’m all for it.
It’s Fun! I’ve read so many negative things about Elf on the Shelf: it’s a waste of time, it’s creepy, it’s one extra thing on a never ending to-do list and how some moms are happy their kids have out grown the Santa phase. But it’s fun. It always brings me back to my own childhood and how magical I believed Christmas was. I want Norrin to have those same memories.
The Elf on the Shelf is our only holiday tradition.
We don’t go to the mall to visit Santa, holiday parties, the Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting, ice skating in Central Park or the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall. But during the holiday season, we read The Elf on the Shelf book at bedtime. We talk about Christmas and when we’ll decorate the tree and writing a letter to Santa. It brings a little of the holiday magic to us, rather than having to seek it out. It’s Christmas fun in the comfort of our home. Seeing Norrin excited about Elfee makes the few seconds of finding a new spot makes it worth it.
And this year, I may just get a little more creative with it. I even started a Pinterest board to keep track of the fun and easy ideas.