My Son is Terrified of The Naughty List


My Son is Terrified of The Naughty List“You Better Watch Out

You Better Not Pout

You Better Not Cry

I’m Telling You Why

Santa Claus is Coming to Town…”

Look at those lyrics. I mean really look at them. The lyrics are telling a child that they must hide their emotions; that they better not express their emotions in a way that their little bodies know how or else Santa Claus will leave them out of all the Christmas cheer! Santa Claus is supposed to be the embodiment of the spirit of giving, Christmas joy and cheer, but if you make a mistake as a child…well then you can be sure Santa is going to skip over your chimney top when dropping off presents to all the GOOD boys and girls!

At least that is what my four-year-old son thinks. For the past few weeks, he has been repeatedly asking me if he is going to be on the “naughty list.” Finally, just a few days ago I realized what was going on. You see, I lost my patience with him. As a family, we were cleaning the toy room and working on the Great Toy Purge of 2019 and he was refusing to help. His older sister was working hard, but he just wouldn’t do it. Eventually, I said, “If you are not going to help then go somewhere else!” He left the room, but came back a few minutes later with tears spilling out of his eyes and his lips trembling and asked yet again “Am I on the naughty list?”

I finally got it; he was terrified that he wasn’t going to be worthy of Santa visiting our home.

I pulled him into my lap and said, “Of course not honey! You are a growing boy and you are going to make mistakes! You will learn from them but making mistakes does not make you a naughty boy. You are a good boy! You have kindness in your heart and you will always be a good boy. You never have to worry about being on the naughty list no matter how much your mom loses patience with you!”

“He’s Making A List

Checking It Twice

Gonna Find Out 

Who’s Naughty or Nice

Santa Claus is Coming To Town…”

I never really thought about what kind of fear we are putting into our children’s hearts when we tell them, “If you aren’t good…Santa is going to be really disappointed in you and then you won’t get anything for Christmas!” Why are we telling our children that they aren’t allowed to grow up and make mistakes? Why are we expecting them to be perfect and then telling them that if they are not perfect, their Christmas will be ruined?  

As a Christian family, I think that defeats the purpose of Christmas. We are celebrating the birth of our Savior that will die for our sins because…well…WE ALL make mistakes, adults and children alike. Yet, here we are telling our children, “Better not do anything wrong while we celebrate the birth of our Savior or else!”

I have even taken it a step farther; I have told me children that I do not believe Santa has a naughty list. I understand and respect that many families have chosen not to include Santa AT ALL into their Christmas tradition and this may be one of the reasons why. But we choose to include the Magic of Christmas along with the celebration of Jesus’s birth. The joy and wonder that my family has when witnessing the magic of Christmas every year is something I will always treasure, but that means my children have asked a lot of questions including, “Why does Santa give US presents on Jesus’s Birthday?” My answer, “Santa, like us, believes the birth of Baby Jesus is something wonderful and miraculous to celebrate and he wants to share that with everyone!”  

When my son is worried he is going to be on the Naughty List, he is connecting the dots. If someone is naughty and therefore is skipped over by Santa…what is their worth? For that reason our house does not believe in the Naughty List. Yes, my children probably will get into trouble between now and Christmas. I may even get very upset with them, but that does not make them naughty or bad. It just makes them children that are constantly learning and growing.

I have told my children that no child will ever deserve to miss out on enjoying Christmas. No child will ever be unworthy of celebrating the magic of Christmas or the love God has for us. It simply is a message that we should not be sending to any of our children.  


  1. Maybe Christmas presents should not be given. You are concerned that he feels he may be naughty and he is concerned about getting presents. Generations have grown up without thinking they are naughty because there are always gifts under the tree. I think in today’s world too much is read into what might damage our children. There is no way to raise the perfect child and by trying to raise the perfect child one could actually be doing more damage to them.

  2. This is why we never did Santa. Couldn’t figure out how to talk about Jesus for Christmas and have a mythical man bring gifts.
    Next year will think about celebrating St Nicholas day because he focused on Christ.


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