If your kids are anything like mine, the months leading up to Christmas, are like gold! Sometime before Halloween we start casually mentioning that Santa is watching them so they need to be on their best behavior. And when they get out of line we bring it up again. The amount of times we need to remind them of Santa's presence becomes fewer and far between. It's amazing how that works!
Then sometime during mid-November the letters start arriving. I've been sending the boys letters from Santa for a few years now, this year was a first for the little girl, Crash. The letters are always typed, signed by Santa, and mailed in an envelope that is nearly always crinkled and looks like it has been sent through the ringer.
These letters are fantastic. Forget the elf on the shelf, which would totally freak my eldest out, he does not like things like that ala the clown from Poltergeist. The letters are always clear and concise. I always talk about how much they've grown since the previous year, both physically and behaviorally. I talk about all the improvements they made from past years and how i've (Santa) noticed and am so proud of them to continue this good behavior. Now, once all the positive affirmations are released I get down to business! I tell the kids that watching over the past year there have been definite "nice" and "naughty" behaviors that has moved them both up and down my scale. I immediately go into all the stuff they've done that have pissed me off and even after repeated talks, incentives, negotiations what have you they have not rectified the behavior. I break it down to them like nobody's business. I then bring it back to a positive upswing and then let them know that I will have one of my helpers watching them and reporting back to me daily. Once these letters are received all I ever have to do is mention the letter and the kids are back on the path of sweetness.
Timing: When we are on a naughty streak at home, this is the perfect time and my queue to send them the letters, as I can bring up these recent misconducts and let them know that they are closer to the naughty scale. I tell them this for two reasons 1)The incidents are recent enough in their memory that they can easily recall them when reading the letters and 2)The amount of time to get themselves in check is running out and I can rest assure that there will be nothing but good behavior.
I've had no backfires on my proven "get your ass in check" system. It works every year and its pretty awesome watching the kids reaction to the letters especially when they forget Santa watches them all year and some of their naughty behaviors are brought up. One day the kids will realize there is no Santa and I'm sure those letters will come flooding back to their minds. I'd like to think we'll all get a good laugh and that they will do this to their own kids someday.