I don’t often get asked to review something, so I was very excited when Family Matters – an American organisation that promotes the works of Dr Tim Kimmel, author of Grace Based Parenting and other books – asked me to review one of their new products: the Kids Flag Page.
Quite simply, the Kids Flag Page is for parents who have woken up one day and discovered that their kids are not robots. Do you know what I mean? If you’ve had kids, you’ll know that for about the first year or so of their life, it’s not too hard to work out what they want. They’re either hungry, they need their nappy (diaper for the Northern Hemisphere folks) changed or they want a cuddle.
Now fast-forward a couple of years and you’re having a massive fight with your 3-year-old over whether you put her pajamas on first or whether you brush her teeth first. You can’t see that it makes a difference. Your toddler is on the floor in tears. What have you done wrong?
Even assuming that you work out what’s going on with that child, then things get more complicated if you have other children. All of a sudden, all the tricks that worked for #1 don’t work for #2 and who the heck knows what’s up with #3?
Into the midst of all this chaos steps the Kids Flag Page. With the cute subtitle – The Operating Manual That SHOULD Have Come Wtih Each Of Your Kids … But Didn’t – this kit brings parents a step closer to understanding what’s ticking away in their child’s minds.
The concept is fairly simple – this kit is designed to tell you your child’s Country. Not their country of birth, but rather their personality type country. Are they from Control Country, Fun Country, Perfect Country or Peace Country? These correspond more or less to the commonly known personality types from many other books: Choleric, Sanguine, Melancholy, Phlegmatic. However, I don’t know about you – but I find Control, Fun, Perfect and Peace a lot easier to remember.
The kit contains a game board and 36 motivation cards. The idea is that you sit down with your child and go through all 36 motivations, which are in the form of little statements like: “I Make People Laugh: It’s easy for you to make people laugh and everything is funny.” Or “I’m One Of A Kind: You love being different. You’re glad you’re not like anyone else.” With your child’s help, you sort the cards into three piles: Always Like Me, Sometimes Like Me, Never Like Me. Then, from there, they take the first two of those piles and work out what is their favourite motivation, and their next five favourites.
From here, parents can quickly work out a numerical score which will tell them what Country their child belongs to and their Adopted Country (which is their next most dominant personality). You can then put stickers on a “flag page” for your child, so they can see exactly which country they belong to.
There’s a 100+ page book by Tim Kimmel that comes with this, which then breaks your child’s personality down into further detail and explain more about the motivations. It also offers illuminating information on what kind of child you get when you combine two Countries (because most children will be a hybrid of their home country and their adopted country).
Most importantly, Tim provides an introduction to his concept of “grace based parenting”, which he has laid out in other books. This is so you’ll not only know what type of child you have – but also a strategy for parenting that child. I actually found this explanation of GBP to be one of the clearest he has given. While the practicalities of it all aren’t gone into in great depth – the kit points you in the direction of Kimmel’s other books for this – the concept comes across pretty clearly: grace based parenting is a fine balance between being flexible and being firm. A parent who never budges on anything will squash their child, especially given the concept that’s now been explained that every child has a unique personality. However, a parent who is permissive and gives in on everything, will create a child with no boundaries who doesn’t know how to function properly.
So with that in mind, the book that accompanies the kit aims to explain what things to be flexible on with each personality and what boundaries need to be carefully maintained to stop the excesses of that personality type going overboard.
On the whole, I think the Kids Flag Page is a great idea. Because it’s in the form of a game that you play with your child (rather than a book that you read about your child, it shows your child that you are actively interested in understanding and appreciating them. (A great thing for any child.) The only catch with this is that the kit is designed for children age 6 and up. If you’ve got children under the age of 6 (and my oldest daughter, who we made a flag page for, is only 4), you can still create a flag page for them, but it’s not really something you can do with them.
But each kit comes with enough stickers and flag pages to make three flags, so you can easily make one now by doing your best guess on the motivation cards, and then try it again in a few years when your child is old enough to work through the cards by themselves. I’m certainly looking forward to trying it with my daughter in a couple of years’ time.
One other benefit of this kit is that the book comes with study questions, so if a bunch of parents wanted to buy a kit each, they could meet and discuss their children over the course of a few weeks, which would be a helpful thing.
My only quibble with the kit, which is an issue I took with Kimmel’s book Grace Based Parenting is that I feel the book is a bit light-on in constructing a Biblical defense of its parenting style. I have nothing against Kimmel’s concept of grace based parenting – it’s very similar to the way we parent our children, and I’m really happy with the type of kids they are becoming. But I often find that the books which are promoting a more heavy-handed, “It’s my way or the highway” type parenting, often do so with Scripture prooftexts on every paragraph. By comparison, some of the ideas in this kit sound like they were borrowed from a mixture of popular self-help books.
But this is a minor detail, and will only really cause upset to those people who like to see a large quantity of Bible references throughout their Christian books before they’ll take the advice seriously. For anyone else – especially parents who want to have a close connection with and understanding of their children in their formative years – I recommend giving it a go.
Another drawback, which I just discovered, is that I don’t think this kit is available in Australia yet. I had a check around the web and it seems to be only available in America and Canada. If you visit the Family Matters website, you can order it in one of those countries, but they don’t seem yet to ship to Australia. However, if enough of you ask your local Christian bookstore, I’m sure some will arrive soon.
UPDATE: Family Matters has informed me that they will be able to post to Australia. In their words:
Just a note about the product’s availability for Australia, if the Aussies go to the website and place an order, we will be able to ship it to them. Our software will not properly calculate the shipping, so they will simply leave their information and we will contact them via email to coordinate shipping, but we are definitely willing and able to send resources Down Under! In reality, Australians may pay a similar rate to ship products as Canada because tariffs and taxes are so cumbersome for Canadians.
FREE GIVEAWAY! In the meantime, Family Matters have very kindly offered to give away a complimentary kit to someone on my blog. So if you’d be interested in receiving a Kids Flag Page, leave a comment below, and I’ll get my four-year-old to draw a name out of a hat on Sunday 13 October.
For more information about the Kids Flag Page and to see a video where Tim Kimmel explains how the product works, click here.