If your kids aren’t out of school for Christmas already, they soon will be. They are so looking forward to the break and for the presents under the tree. You too are (probably) looking to spend some time with them at Christmas. Coming home with them is their mid-year grades. Hopefully your children are doing well in school, but what if grades are an issue? How can you handle that over the holiday season without ruining their Christmas and yours?
First, keep in mind that you, Santa, and everyone in your family should be giving gifts with no strings attached. This means that no matter how your child performs in school that you would have given them the gift anyway. Since the gifts are given unconditionally, your child should be able to keep their gifts regardless of their grades, and in my opinion they should be able to enjoy those gifts over the holiday break.
By allowing your child to keep and use/play with their gifts while they are on Christmas break, you may be worried that you’re sending the wrong message to them. So, instead of taking away their gifts, maybe you take away another toy or device that they love to do throughout the entire year. That one can be tough also, because you may be tempted to take away video game usage but they just got a Kinect or some other great game. Or maybe they got an iPod so you can’t really take away their computer because they need it to setup and sync the iPod. An alternative may be to restrict their usage and time on these devices.
You might be tempted to take away some activity that they would otherwise be involved in. Maybe they were planning to go on a trip with their church or other organization, perhaps they play some recreational sport or it might be that your family is planning a ski trip or something similar. Taking away or limiting their involvement in these are certainly candidates for consequences, but you will have to evaluate the message that you’re sending. You also want to pay attention to how the consequences might affect the rest of the family, particularly if you’re in the ski trip scenario. A moping teenager is certainly a downer to any occasion, and if you’re paying money to travel then you really don’t want to waste those dollars.
Another option is something like extra chores. A little hard work never hurt anyone, and if you live in an area where there’s snow and ice then a good snow shoveling might get your message across. Or, maybe you have leaves to rake or some other work to do that your children normally don’t participate in. This may well be your best option because you don’t impact the rest of the family or activities and your child can still enjoy the benefits of the holiday season.
In summary, I’m not sure I gave you any good options, just things to consider. That’s why I titled this post the way that I did – it is a tough combination. Just keep in mind that your child is watching everything that you say and do. If you promised a consequence, then following through on that consequence is much more important in the long run than being lenient. As hard as it may be to have your child miss out on things during their time off, you send a very important message to them when you take their grades seriously. And remember that positive reinforcement is much more powerful than punishment, so don’t forget to celebrate their successes in school also.