I really like this way of thinking. My only problem is with the idea of using Santa as a threat, i.e. "if you aren't good Santa's not coming." That's cruel, IMO. But using it as a rite of passage, now I really like that!
I can see that. However, I also understand parents need levers. Equating good behavior with priviledges seems to be the way things are done, as opposed to a smack on the rear. I do not see it as being any more cruel than saying they need to do their chores or they do not get to watch tv.
On parents needing levers we are in 100% agreement. I don't have 3 well-behaved, non-bratty kids by accident - we didn't spank or do time-outs (which I consider the dumbest parenting idea ever invented). What we did was, decide what they enjoyed doing the most, and take it away for (insert length of time depending on "crime" committed).
I still don't like the "be good or Santa won't bring you anything/will bring you coal" - because it is an empty threat. You can't actually follow through with it. Kids will figure out pretty quickly that you are FOS.
My kids knew that if I said "you need to do XYZ or you will not be able to watch TV all week/play with your My Little Ponies/Transformers/Xbox/with your friend Ralph (etc. etc.)" - that I would damn well follow through on that. I never made a threat I wasn't willing to totally follow through with!
If I had said "if you don't do XYZ then Santa won't come" - and then the kid called my bluff - I'd be screwed.
I learned this by watching my older sister parent. I decided whatever she did, I'd do the opposite, and it has worked quite well. She was (IS) the queen of the empty threat. Her kids know it, and they ignore everything she says. Sad, but the completely natural consequence of years of empty threats.
Now, if you are willing to actually follow through and have Santa not come - well that's a different story, and I'd agree with you. But I wasn't willing to do that.