Category Archives: Discipline

Mazel Tov! (Congratulations, I’m happy for you!)



One of the last lingering effects of a former relative’s playing favorites with my twins, is that Halle can’t stand to see Zanna win or excel in anything or receive any kind of praise.

It doesn’t matter that Halle herself is equally praised, complimented and congratulated on her accomplishments, she just can’t stand it.  If Zanna is praised, Halle wants to be praised more, if Zanna looks as though she’s going to win a game, Halle’ll give up and throw a tantrum at the “unfairness” of it.

And for Zanna , she’d become afraid to compete against her sister, afraid to do anything well in the presence of her sister, and though she had great talent and love for art, she’d all but given that up, because getting complimented for it meant gaining the ire of her sister.

We’ve been wracking our brains on what to do here.  Both of the girls are victims in a way.

So after the last bout of tantrums because Zanna got praised for cleaning up her messy toys (while Halle had refused to pick up anything), I announced:

“You know what we need around here?  We need a special holiday!  We need a Mazel Tov Day!”

Both the girls were very curious about this.  “What is Mazel Tov?” they asked.

Well, Mazel Tov is Hebrew for “Congratulations, I’m happy for you!”

I told them that it’s important to be happy for other people and not begrudge them or get sore if they do well.  We can either choose to be a sore sport and get mad when anyone else does well, or we can congratulate them and feel happy that someone we know has done well!

In fact, instead of just a day of Mazel Tov, I think we need a week or a month, maybe!

I told the girls that I wanted them both to be Mazel Tov girls that I could be proud of!

I could see the wheels turning in Halle’s brain.  So I left things alone for awhile to percolate.

Later that day, I presented Halle with some art supplies she’d been begging for, and for Zanna, I pulled out a new sketchbook.  I could see Halle looking at us, so I did my best Mommy-Telepathy and projected: “Don’t you dare!”  She turned away and proceeded to start using her new art stuff and left her sister alone.

Zanna was overjoyed with her new sketchbook.  I asked her if she wanted anything special to use with it – liner markers, pencils, etc., but she said that she wanted to use the colored pencils we already had.  She happily scooted off to her room to get to work.

Soon Zanna came back showing the pictures she drew. (It was pretty obvious she’d become out of practice from the long hiatus.)  I complimented her art and suggested that she find a place on the wall to tape it up.

Then Halle asked, “What about me?”  So I asked her if she’d drawn anything yet.  “No,” she replied, so I told her to get busy and then we’ll see.  About half an hour later, Halle came up to me with a lovely picture of a monster that she’d drawn from an advertisement for something and I told her it was very well done!  I suggested that she also find a nice spot on the wall to tape it up.

So we’ll see.  I’m not kidding myself that we’ve managed to stamp out the problem completely, but at least we’ve found the language to effectively communicate what we expect from the girls, rather than a vague and general “Don’t do that!”

World’s greatest mouth-cleaner? #TackyBox Review pt. 2

Since the Tacky Box review pt 1, our Tacky Box has seen quite a bit of usage.  Our resident tattler twin has been redirected towards it whenever she has a grievance against her sister, and there is now a good accumulation of Tacky memo notes inside it.

The interesting thing about that, is while the offender has been pretty careful to not repeat “Tacky” words, she is also pretty creative in coming up with new ones.  Hence the accumulation of Tacky notes in our Tacky Box.

Our family has also had some pretty good conversations when our twins come home from school and inquire whether or not a classmate’s words or behavior qualify as “Tacky”.  (I really like this as it shows my kids are not just passive sponges when it comes to their peers’ behavior, but they are observing and applying their judgment as to whether something is right or wrong.)

And when I accidentally flambe`ed something at the stove and said a naughty word, there was a chorus of little voices calling me out on uttering a “Tacky” word.  I asked them to please write and put that word in the Tacky Box while I dealt with the equivalent of Pompeii in the kitchen, but I was informed that “That word is already in the Tacky Box, Mommy, from the last time you said it!”


Moving on…

And in the past, where I would have had to repeatedly ask that certain behaviors be stopped, now I only have to remind the child that that sort of thing is “Tacky”, and surprisingly, she stops it.

I like this Tacky Box.


Can a #TackyBox help with Potty Mouth? Review & Giveaway

We tried the Potty Mouth chart, created by my kids, where refraining from using naughty words is rewarded, but it just didn’t meet with much success.

Then I ran across a children’s book called “Margo’s Magnificent Choice” and the Tacky Box.  The Tacky Box is a simple wooden box with a clasp on it that children can decorate as they please, and inside is a little memo pad festooned with the Tacky Box monkey logo for children to write down any ‘tacky’ words or behaviors they engage in or even that they’ve witnessed.  Then those tacky things are locked away in the box, never to be heard (or seen) from again!

The Tacky Box is packaged as a set with the lovely watercolor-illustrated book: “Margo’s (or ‘Max’s’ for boys) Magnificent Choice”.


My girls were excited to have me read them a new story at bedtime, especially one with a monkey on the cover.  They ‘oo-ed’ and ‘ah-ed’ over the illustrations and admiring the watercolor painting techniques, as they listened to the tale of Margo, the prettiest, smartest, etc-est monkey in the jungle who still wasn’t very happy because some of her own tacky words repulsed all of the other animals in the jungle, except the Wise Old Owl.

That sage fowl has a solution, of course!  He gifts Margo with her very own Tacky Box with which to lock away her tacky words.  Margo is determined to use kinder, non-tacky language with her jungle friends, and before long she is also the happiest critter in the jungle.

After finishing the story, I told Halle & Zanna that I had a special surprise for them!  Then I pulled out our very own Tacky Box.


They were very excited about this and immediately began bombarding me with all kinds of words and behaviors that they heard at school and from each other, asking me eagerly if those qualified as ‘Tacky’.  Upon confirmation that yes, those were indeed tacky words they eagerly grabbed for the Tacky Box’s word pad and soon our Tacky Box had quite a collection of papers in it.


After every entry we all high-fived and congratulated each other on our promise to never use those tacky words again.

For the past couple of days, every evening the girls have quite a list of tacky words they’ve witnessed their classmates (and their twin) using, and I’m just hoping that the makers of the Tacky Box will offer a re-fill of the memo pad, because my girls have refused to use post-it notes as a substitute, because it doesn’t have the picture of Margo & Max on it.

I really like the Tacky Box so far, because it’s made my girls evaluate the language they use and hear from others.  We’ll see if the Tacky Box has any effect over the long term in my follow-up review in a few weeks from now.

The Tacky Box and “Margo’s (Max’s) Magnificent Choice” are the brainchild of Chris Kent Phelps and Cindy Kent, a mother/grandmother duo bent on ridding the world of tacky behaviors

Here is what the Tacky Box looked like after my twins stopped stuffing it full of tacky words and actually started decorating it:


You can order your very own Tacky Box set here.


  • Hardback copy of Margo’s (Max’s) Magnificent Choice
  • Authentic Tacky Box (5×8 wooden box
    featuring Margo and Max)
  • Instructions for use from Authors
  • Special notepad featuring Margo and Max

for just $29.95 USD

OR  You can enter our special giveaway to win one of your own!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


*** I was offered one TackyBox/Margo’s Magnificent Choice set to facilitate this review, and one set was offered as a giveaway prize to my readers.  No other compensation was received and all opinions expressed in this review are my own and were not influenced in any way by compensation.

Protecting Small Children from Lack of Impulse Control

WARNING: this content deals with the subject of harm and potential harm to children – while not graphic, I just wanted you to be aware.

I worry constantly about my 4yr old twins.  They’re like small, cute, friendly, chattering squirrels.

And no matter how much I role-play and drill them about “stranger danger” or even potential danger from someone they might know, they still cozy up to every stranger we meet.

This is why I generally don’t let them out of my sight outside of school hours, and the list of people I trust their little lives and safety to is a Very.  Short.  List.  And even then, I make sure it’s for as short a time as possible.

And I’m sure you’ve read the recent news reports: a politician molests the sleeping slumber-party guests of his elementary-school age daughter, a Texas father having to repeatedly put the smack-down on the filth molesting his 4-yr-old daugher to rescue her when the piece of garbage just won’t stop – resulting in the creep’s death,


the recent Dateline report that showed that even a police officer’s own child was susceptible to the blandishments of child-luring.

We try and try, and tell them over and over again.  We practice scenarios, we role-play, we repeat ad nauseum.

But do I have any faith that that would be enough in the face of someone pretending to be nice and offering candy to my kids in the hopes of luring them off?

Hell no!

Because no matter how well you prepare them, they are still very young, and anything resembling impulse control is practically non-existant.

Let me make this very clear:  Small children primarily act on their Lizard Brain instinct.

Desire pops up and they’ve gone chasing it faster than you can say ‘Don’t get into cars with strangers offering candy!’ or ‘Don’t go into the street after a ball!’

You cannot depend that if it ever (God forbid!) comes down to crunch time, that your little sweetie will have the emotional and mental wherewithal to remember the lessons you’ve drilled into their head, let alone the gumption to stand up to whatever emotional pressure some creep is putting on your child to get them to go along with whatever horrible crap they’ve thought up.

I’m sorry to be so negative about this, to rain on your parade, but let me tell you a little (true) story:

Waaaay back when, Little Lara (me), age 6, gets out of school for the day.  Her friend – let’s call her ‘Sophie’ – says “I’ve got a great idea!  How about you come home with me today and we’ll play at my house!”

Little Lara thinks this is nifty and follows Sophie home (this was in the dinosaur days when little kids walked to and from school even at such young ages – but it could just as easily have been Lara’s own backyard the kids wandered away from).

After a couple of hours playing, Sophie’s mom sticks her head out, tells Sophie it’s time to come in and that her little friend has to go home.

So off wanders Little Lara obediently, with no idea how to actually get home, and compounding this problem – she’s very navigationally challenged on a good day! (I still am, actually!)

By this time, Little Lara’s mom has gone beyond insane with worry, and has notified the police and gotten the neighborhood somewhat organized into search parties.

They eventually find the child in an abandoned construction site – luckily alive and unmolested.

Little Lara did not stop and think that her mom should be notified BEFORE she goes home with her friend.  She did not think of mentioning to Sophie’s mom that A) she did not have her mom’s permission to be there, and B) she had no idea of how to get home, and C) It never occured to Sophie’s mom that the small child her daughter was playing with WASN’T from their neighborhood and didn’t have permission to be there.

Everyone just sorta ‘went with the flow’.  You can’t assume that other ‘responsible’ adults around will catch things that ‘slip thru the cracks’.

Kids just don’t think.  And not all situations are cut-and-dried, with some obviously sinister stranger practically advertising his/her intentions, menacing your child.

These days perpetrators – whether strangers or someone known to the child – work to make an environment that the child feels comfortable with and lulls the child into complacency.

Here’s another true story:

Little Lara (my, she had an exciting childhood!) age 4, gets on the schoolbus after Pre-K.  The bus takes off, but doesn’t actually stop to let any kids off.  Instead, Ernie the bus driver goes off on a joyride with about 10 small children riding shotgun.

He even stops to buy them all candy, which they happily eat – never thinking that it might be poisoned (relax, it wasn’t – luckily!), not questioning that they weren’t being taken home.  Nope, they were all singing “The Wheels On The Bus” and otherwise having a very fun time with their new buddy Ernie.

And when, at last after several hours, he returns the bus to the school – and gets taken away by the police – every one of those children were quite bewildered at their parents’ hysterics.  (It turned out that Ernie had been mentally ill and later committed homicide.)

Point is:  a situation that may give any right-minded parent the heebie-jeebies from hell, may seem to be ‘situation normal’ to a small child – no matter how informed that child may have been by conscientious parents!

So please don’t take it for granted that your child’s safety awareness under controlled circumstances may translate to the same level under (God forbid!) actual field conditions.

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