Sometimes the joy of parenting is curbed by the not so perfect moments your children bring you. And sometimes those moments last all day long. And in these moments, the whole positive reinforcement thing doesn’t quite work. Suffice it to say that the whole “Santa will bring you presents if you’re good” doesn’t register with the resident 3 year olds of the house.
But what’s a dad to do if the jolly fat guy doesn’t work? Kids expect presents under the tree regardless of their behavior. Lucky for my kids, I heard about Krampus. This little Austrian nugget is the negative reinforcement to be used in case of emergency all December long. Leave it to the German speaking countries to come up with this.
It looks evil. Krampus doesn’t stick fossil fuel in a bad kid’s stocking. Heck, as the story goes, Krampus actually abducts naughty kids at night. Even the 3 year olds know not to mess with Krampus.
Of course I tried to leverage the Santa/Krampus duo to influence behavior in the house. I programmed Samantha’s phone to show a picture of Santa and the name Santa when I call. If Charlie is misbehaving, he may get a call from Santa. How he doesn’t know that I’m never in the room for these conversations is unsettling, but I can understand his lack of awareness given the importance of the phone call. And in case of emergency, I programmed the name Krampus and a pic of the beastly fellow on my phone for when Samantha calls. Now when Charlie knows he’s over the line, I ask for my phone and Charlie sheepishly asks who I’m calling. Whether he thinks its Kris Kringle or Krampus, peace is usually achieved. Well played.