Destinations Magazine

Chris Phelps Creates the Tacky Box to Encourage Children to Make Good Choices

By Ohsocynthia @OhSoCynthia

Chris Phelps creates the Tacky Box to encourage children to make good choices

Emma Phelps shows off her Tacky Box | photo Elizabeth Lavin

You've probably heard the old adage: “Necessity is the mother of invention.” This concept was fully realized for Chris Phelps, the day her daughter Emma, then halfway through her kindergarten year, nonchalantly used her first four letter word. Shocked and unprepared for the moment, Chris panicked – then got creative – she gave her daughter a wooden box and told her to write the bad word on a piece of paper.  She then asked her to lock it away in the "Tacky Box" and not use it again. The unexpected result was how well it worked – not just on four letter words but also unkind phrases and tacky behavior – and the resulting ripple effect. Being a 5-year old girl, Emma also decided to bedazzle her Tacky Box with paint, stickers, color and the like. You know, 'cuz that's what kids do. 

Chris Phelps creates the Tacky Box to encourage children to make good choices

Cindy Kent and Chris Phelps

"When I created Tacky Box," says creator Chris Phelps, "I never expected it to work so well, and I certainly never imagined the resulting ripple effect. After the first week, I saw a noticeable change in both of my children. They began to take pride in distinguishing between what’s appropriate and inappropriate and in policing their own words and actions.
And, to my amazement, they also began to gently and successfully encourage those around them to choose to be kind rather than tacky. This unforeseen result gives me hope that we can collectively raise this generation of kids to put kindness first and ultimately leave the world a better place."
Knowing every parent faces the issue of tacky words and behavior, Chris and her mom, Cindy Kent, partnered up to share the idea that worked so well for Emma and Jake. As a former educator and professional artist who understands the value of a lesson, Cindy created the characters of Margo and Max the Monkeys to help tell Emma’s story and hopefully make the job of a parent a little bit easier by creating a visual and hands on tool.
Having witnessed the impact of Tacky Box on Emma, Jake and their friends, Chris’ longtime friends, Karen Cuskey and James Regester joined in the effort to take Tacky Box’s message of personal responsibility and kindness to the masses. Tacky Box started with a four letter word and evolved into a collaborative effort to make the world a kinder place, one child at a time.

The Tacky Box Set is available for boys and girls at a cost of $29.95.  Boys get a book with Max the monkey and girls get Margo the monkey. Each set includes: Hardback copy of Max/Margo's Magnificent Choice, Authentic Tacky Box (5x8 wooden box featuring Margo and Max), Instructions for use from Authors, Special notepad featuring Margo and Max.  Available online at

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