There's a Wreath on my Wrist (Not an Elf on my Shelf)

Rather than focusing on our children’s behavior we want to encourage parents to be mindful of their own responses. And to this endeavor, here’s the…

Wreath on my Wrist


 The Wreath on My Wrist is a special scout from your heart to remind you to see your child beyond their behavior. Each time you start to reprimand your child for talking to you while you’re on the phone or for being too rough with the family pet, you can instead be reminded to connect with your child, to remember your gratitude for your child, and to offer gentle guidance. The behavior we model as parents is directly related to our children’s behavior; if we model the behavior we want to see…well, we’ll see that behavior more and more!

How to create a Wreath on my Wrist:

  1.  Think of 10 things you’re grateful for about each of your children.
  2. You can represent each child individually if you have multiple children, maybe by the shape or color of the bead.
  3. Buy some elastic string and 10 beads for each child. If you have 1 child you can create more gratitudes, include additional family members (spouse, pet, in-laws…anywhere you feel that gratitude will help you with your attitude). If you have 10 kids you may want to have 2-3 beads that represent multiple gratitudes…100 beads probably won’t fit!
  4. The next time you feel your head begin to fill with anger or your chest fill with fear you can reach over and find the pertinent bead and list 10 appropriate gratitudes for that moment.

Wait! You don’t have time for all of that?  Your mind is in a million places with gifts and meals and family and friends.  So, keep it simple.  Your wreath can be as easy as a hair tie around your wrist or some beads strung together. You don’t have to put too much thought into creating a wrist wreath.  The point is for us as parents to have a simple reminder to be mindful of OUR behavior during the holiday season.

You can also get your children involved – let them know what its all about and have them help you make it. What a great way for them to help us stay in check, right?! They may want to make their own wreath too, to help them remember to be kind to their sibling who borrows their clothes or to be kind to the dog who chews their toys. Gratitude is a beautiful tool for everyone of every age.



Wondering “WHY” a wreath versus an elf?

 We couldn’t agree more with our friend Jennifer McGrail’s post “Christmas, Advent, & My Beef with the Elf on the Shelf.” We too have long been annoyed with the Elf on the Shelf for it’s promotion of behavior-focused, fear-based, reward-punishment parenting practices. We’ve posted our own arguments and various other people’s arguments against the Elf during past holidays and we get a number of typical responses:

“This is so over-the-top.”

“We don’t use it like that. We just like to have fun with it.”

“It’s the easiest time of the year to parent because we  simply defer to the elf and our children instantly comply.”

For those of you who aren’t familiar with “the elf,” here is the website statements about their product (emphasis added):

“The Elf on the Shelf® is a special scout elf sent from the North Pole to help Santa Claus manage his naughty and nice lists.”

“Your Elf on the Shelf reports all sorts of things to Santa, like when you’ve been naughty and nice. If you do your chores, he or she tells Santa what a good helper you are. When you don’t share your toys, he or she lets Santa know that, too!”

It’s no wonder the kids “wake up and race around the house to find the elf”…they’re probably hoping to flush it down the toilet or disembowel it before it can head off to report to Santa again!

For those of you who use it as a fun way to interact with your kids…bravo for ignoring the scare-tactic suggestions on the website!

For those of you in the “over-the-top” category, we understand. We spend a LOT of time making intentional decisions about the way we raise our children. And we know many other parents do too. We make intentional decisions about how we treat them, the way we present holidays, and how we show them we value their input on the simple, every day things in life, such as play dates, bedtime, and little spies that might camp out in our house and say bad things about them. And frankly, it CAN be exhausting to think about every little thing. Honestly, though, we can’t possibly think of every little thing on our own. Personally, we are ALWAYS discovering some new way to be more intentional in our parenting, and we are usually grateful to the person or blog or article who brings it to our awareness. Sometimes this means we change the way we do something, sometimes it means we leave it the way it is, and sometimes we promptly forget until we’re reminded of it later in life. So, our goal is simply to point out one more may we can all become more intentional in our celebrations around the holiday season. And YOU get to decide whether or not it applies to you and your family.

For those of you in the “eases parenting challenges” camps, again, I understand. Parenting is FULL of challenges and it can be exhausting. We invite each of you to continue to read peaceful, gentle parenting blogs. They’ve been incredibly helpful to us on our journey, and we believe they can help you on your journey, too. There are links to blogs and books we recommend for those of you who want to ease your power struggles without passing the buck to the little Elf.


Holidays are stressful for most adults, and they’re equally, if not more stressful for children. Many parents are distracted and busy, not fully present, and hurrying children between errands, parties and events in their efforts to create “the perfect holiday.”  However, children simply want to slow down, they want us to be present with them, to listen, to play with them. And when they try to communicate their sense of disconnect from us, we often miss the message. Instead of recognizing their unmet need, we get distracted by their form of communication, and then call upon the Elf on the Shelf for help addressing the messenger rather than the message.


Here is the link to blogs and books we recommend for those of you looking to ease your power struggles and hear the message behind your children’s behavior!


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