The other day my 5 year old hopped off of the school bus, hair bow akimbo and wearing only her lightweight sweater and jeans. It was 38 degrees out and she had stuffed her coat into her backpack instead of putting it on, lost her winter hat in her classroom, and forgotten to change out of her athletic sneakers after gym.
Sound familiar? I’m sure I’m not the only one with an absent-minded child whose transition from home-to-school and school-to-home comes with a flurry of papers, paint-stained clothes, and missing personal belongings. It may be common, but as she ran ahead with her neighborhood friends oblivious to my warnings about crossing the street without a parent, I knew something needed to change. She was forgetting too many things and losing her focus when I asked her to listen to me.
Fortuitously, our new Kudo Banz Starter Pack arrived in the mail that morning.
What is Kudo Banz?
Kudo Banz, a company started by a mom with young kids, is an on-the-go, interactive “sticker chart” designed to help kids meet goals they create with their parents. Instead of using stickers, Kudo Banz uses a colorful silicone band and kudos–little shapes and animal charms that snap onto the band–to reward the wearer each time he or she meets a goal. Once three goals are met, the wearer gets to scan their third kudo charm and use the interactive app to choose a reward. The Starter Pack comes with a band, six kudo charms, a carrying pouch, app access, and a storybook that helps explain how Kudo Banz works.
My daughter and I settled in before bed that night and read the story together. In the back of the hardcover book, there’s a place for parents and kids to work together to set three goals. It’s completely flexible and we created goals to help my daughter increase her responsibility and improve her listening skills. She and I also customized the reward wheel together.
The Kudo Banz app has a wheel that kids can spin each time they earn a third kudo charm (then the goals start over again). We filled hers in with rewards like stay up an extra 5 minutes past bedtime, stop and have a family dance party to a song of her choosing, have iPad time after school, and eat yogurt-covered raisins for snack (her favorite!).
Collaboration and Positive Parenting
I admit it. The first few days were a little bumpy. We had to use some trial and error to discover how to best utilize Kudo Banz. We altered our goals to be a little less abstract and settled on the following: make your bed before school, bring home your lunch thermos, and respond before mom has to repeat herself. My daughter and I also decided to end her daily goals at dinnertime. Part of the fun of Kudo Banz is getting to wear the bracelet with all of the kudos attached. We found that if we finished our third goal before bed, she didn’t have time to wear the fully completed band. It was nice to work on fine tuning things together; I think my daughter feels more responsible for meeting her goals because she helped create them with me.
One of my favorite elements of Kudo Banz is the app’s tips. Periodically, the app sends my phone little notifications with tips on how to get the most out of our Banz. These tips–and the Kudo Banz philosophy in general–are geared toward positive parenting. They’re a reminder to praise and reward kiddos for their efforts and successes instead of yelling or punishing negative behaviors. When I feel myself start to get frustrated, Kudo Banz has helped me take a step back and instead focus on how to rephrase my words so that they foster good listening and helpful behavior.
Once my daughter and I had flushed out our Kudo Banz goals, it was smooth sailing. Usually, when she gets a new item or project to do, she’s interested in it for a few days and then we slowly forget to finish it or keep up with its demands. Not this time! We’ve been using Kudo Banz for two weeks and she wakes up excited to slip into her band each morning. She rushes upstairs after breakfast to make her bed (I haven’t had to reminder her in days!), she’s remembering to bring her personal items home from school, and I find I’m having to repeat instructions to her less and less.
I can tell she’s proud of herself and she surprised me when she told me what she loves most about Kudo Banz. I thought she would be constantly crossing her fingers for iPad time, but her favorite part is actually seeing her progress on the app. Each day she fulfills all three of her goals, her little avatar moves up a spot on the cool journey map. It’s a tangible reminder of the progress she’s making. Reaching a new level encourages her to keep at it. When she meets her goals, she grows even more confident in her ability to meet them the next day, too.
A Year Round Parenting Tool
We don’t have an Elf on the Shelf at our house, but I know we’re closing in on that time of year. Your elf (or elves!) are a fun way to remind children that Santa is coming and I can see how they help to improve attitudes and behavior. But what happens when the holidays end? We all know that the time between January and spring thaw–which, in Duluth, could be as far off as June–feels like it lasts a lifetime. Kids start climbing the walls by January 2nd.
Kudo Banz doesn’t have to get packed away with the rest of the holiday decor. It’ll give you and your kiddos a schedule and structure to adhere to for the long haul. When kids have a confident handle on their initial set of goals, switch them up! You can keep evolving your plan with Kudo Banz for as long as you need. I’m going to invest in a new kudo collection as a stocking stuffer to keep things fun and fresh as my daughter confidently marches toward meeting her goals.