Naughty or Nice?


“He sees you when you’re sleeping,

He knows when you’re awake.

He knows if you’ve been bad or good

So be good for goodness sake.”

Nope, those aren’t words taken from the documentary of a serial killer, those are lyrics to the kid-friendly Christmas classic “Santa Clause is Coming to Town”

Overall this is a well meaning tune that was created to incentivize children to keep their behavior in check for the threat of missing out on presents, but the lasting effects of controlling behavior based on shame and punishment can be really damaging.

Were you the “naughty” kid growing up? How did that affect your identity to be branded as a troublemaker or someone who just couldn’t get it right?

Or were you perhaps the “nice” kid? Did that harm your ability to work through negative emotions for fear of retribution?

These labels we put on ourselves even as small children can affect how we see ourselves even as adults.

As an adult, it is possible to reframe this thinking in your mind:

I was a good kid who occasionally had a hard time

I was a good kid who tried really hard to not rock the boat but
ultimately that didn’t serve me holistically

I was a good kid who was mislabeled by those who were around me

I was a good kid who didn’t deserve coal at Christmas

How did it feel to read those? Relieving? Disconnected? A little silly?

Let me encourage you to discuss those feelings with a licensed therapist as it may be a great conversation starter into deeper identity issues that spurred on through childhood. Feel free to call my office and book an appointment or I can give you a referral of a trusted source who can help you. You don’t have to think of yourself the same way as you look into the rearview mirror of the past, you do have the power to reframe and relabel who you were as a child - perhaps with a gentler, more loving tone.