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Santa’s naughty list getting a makeover? Paediatrician and daughters argue for phasing out coal as punishment

Time to retire coal as the go-to naughty list punishment, Santa! Not only is it bad for the planet, but it could also harm kids’ health and mental well-being. Let’s embrace more eco-friendly and compassionate alternatives this holiday season. #ChristmasKindness

Santa should phase out coal as punishment in Christmas stockings, according to paediatrician Tamsin Holland Brown and her daughters Lilac and Marigold. In a recent article for The BMJ, the trio made the environmental and compassionate case for ending the tradition of giving coal to naughty children during the festive season.

In an article published in The BMJ, the trio argued that the traditional practice of giving coal to misbehaving children is both environmentally and socially harmful.

The authors argued that not only does the burning of coal contribute to the climate crisis, but its impact on air quality can also be harmful to children’s health. Moreover, receiving a lump of coal as a punishment could have negative effects on children’s mental health, especially at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic, the cost of living crisis, and the climate emergency have already added to anxieties.

As alternatives, the authors suggested recycled/upcycled gifts, plant-based foods, walks and bike rides in nature, inspiring novels, or even a stick insect.

The authors also made the case for celebrating “naughty” children, such as eco-activist Greta Thunberg, who inspired millions of students to go on school strikes for climate action. They argued that these children should be on the “nice” list, rather than the naughty list.

The authors concluded that it’s time for adults to “be kind to the world” and phase out coal as a punishment.

The authors also highlight that fostering positive friendships and connections between different generations is the key to improving self-worth and combating anxiety, according to experts. And they remind us that as Winnie the Pooh says, the festive season is all about coming together and celebrating the power of friendship.

So this holiday season, make a commitment to strengthening your bonds with loved ones and watch your self-worth and happiness soar!

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