Chris Phelps will never forget when her kindergartner daughter, Emma, first said a certain four-letter word when casually telling a story about her day.
“When I heard that word come out of my sweet girl’s mouth, I panicked,” Phelps says. “But then I got creative, and Tacky Box came to be. In that critical, teaching moment, I told Emma she would hear all kinds of tacky words in the world, and only she could decide how she would respond.”
Tacky Box ($29.95) is designed to encourage children to be considerate to others and choose kind words over tacky ones. The set comes with an illustrated book (Margo’s Magnificent Choice for girls and Max’s Magnificent Choice for boys), a special notepad for writing down inconsiderate words and actions, and a wooden box to stash away the notes to remove them from hearts and minds.
“There is a visible ripple effect when even one child chooses kindness,” says founder Chris Phelps.
“One of my favorite Tacky Box moments was when I watched the American Music Awards with my two children,” Phelps recalls. “Justin Timberlake took the stage, and during his performance, he sang the words ‘shut up.’
“My 6-year-old at the time ran to the kitchen to get her Tacky Box off the shelf and wrote, ‘Shut up, Justin Timberlick.’ She dropped it in the box, locked it up and ran back to the sofa, proudly announcing Justin was in the Tacky Box. She has never repeated those two words!”
Once Phelps realized how well these lesson worked with her own kids, she felt compelled to share the idea with other children in an effort to change the way people treat one another. “There is a visible ripple effect when even one child chooses kindness,” Phelps says. “Our goal is to create a nationwide ripple effect and make the world a kinder place.”
In an effort to start a kindness revolution, Phelps held focus groups prior to Tacky Box’s soft launch in January. Then she sent sets to mommy bloggers across the country. The consensus was she had a product that worked.
Tacky Box also did a pilot program in four kindergarten classrooms in East Dallas during the month of May. The boxes were kept in the kids’ cubbies, and each day after lunch, the children would go directly to their box and write down anything they’d seen or heard from the day before.
“The teachers were amazed at the initiative and the follow-through the kids showed each day and heard multiple children on the playground encouraging friends to speak kindly,” Phelps says.
Although success stories have poured in from parents of children as young as 2, the ideal recipient is between the ages of 4 and 8. Phelps hopes that Dallas will be the leader in the Campaign for Kindness and they can complete their mission of providing a Tacky Box set to every kindergartner in the country.
“Just recently, our very generous founding sponsors, Freddy and Muffy O’Pry, donated Tacky Box Sets to five elementary schools in West Dallas,” Phelps says. “We hope to keep that momentum going so that every single child learns this lesson, and we can make real change.”