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First of all, we'd like to take a moment to thank all of the first users who have tried Smiles & Frowns over our first year or so out of the gate. Our team is small (like two dads small) but our desire to make Smiles & Frowns work great for you is very big.

That's why we're excited to roll out our first major update. After a year-plus of listening to feedback and working with folks to solve problems along the way, we think this update offers plenty of improvements to make the app better than ever.

Here's a quick run-down of the changes you can expect:



– To begin with, we've added a “Contact Us” option to the More menu, so it’s easier to give us feedback, send us ideas to make things better (which we love to hear) or to report any issues.

– We've added tooltips in key spots to help make setting up boards even easier.

– We've improved the syncing logic, to help make sure everyone is staying in sync better across all of their boards.

– We've added improved bug tracking, so if any crashes or errors do occur – which have been pretty rare – we can find any problems and fix them faster.

– We've updated the Board Manager view to include "Active" and "Available” tabs, so behavior boards are more organized and new boards are easier to preview.

– We've changed the Reports view, so it now creates reports monthly instead of every two weeks. It’s so much easier to read now, and makes reviewing behavior regularly with your kids much more natural.

– We've created an option to reset boards to 0 Smiles, 0 Frowns and 0 Spending Smiles when maxing out cash rewards. This makes it easier to use Smiles & Frowns as a way for kids to "earn" a weekly or monthly allowance. It also makes it easier to start over with a fresh chance for them to succeed whenever you want.

– We've added notifications for occasional updates and reminders. These can really help you keep the “5 Cs” rolling.

– We've lowered the price to buy the full set of boards.

– We've introduced ad-free subscriptions to give you more ways to try this option.

– We've fixed an issue that made the screen “jump” when ads appeared.


As we head into 2018, we hope to make many more improvements to make Smiles & Frowns even more useful for everyone out there. We want thank you all again for giving it a chance, and look forward to hearing your feedback in the months ahead!


One of the preset boards in Smiles & Frowns is called “Teacher’s Helper”, and it’s meant to do exactly that. But what it can really do to make a teacher’s life easier may surprise you.

Let me explain, because it may give you a chance to help a teacher out.

First of all, I’m sure we all are familiar with star charts in the classroom. Teachers used them when we were kids, and they still use them today. It’s one of the most important places to work on behavior, in fact.

So when we were putting together Smiles & Frowns, we created a board built for the classroom, too, focused on completing assignments, following rules, good classroom and hallway behavior and those sorts of things. You download the app and can see it right here:

TeacherGiveSmilesI thought it could help teachers replace those big old boards with the marvels of modern technology. And maybe it could. But then I showed it to my sister.

My sister is a teacher in the midwest. She’s kind of a Super Teacher, actually. She’s well-respected, has been honored with awards, is incredibly experienced, and is completely unafraid to tell me what I don’t know. And what I didn’t know was this…

On top of everything else they do, many teachers also have to put together two or three individual behavior plans for individual students in every single classroom. These plans are meant to help particular kids overcome particular challenges with their behavior, and their progress is something that needs to be regularly reviewed with parents and counselors.

It’s an awesome thing that they do for our kids, but it also can become an incredibly time-consuming part of their already overloaded day. Can you imagine?


My sister told me that this is where Smiles & Frowns could really help.  A teacher could very easily create a custom a board for every student that needs an individual behavior plan. Then all the best features of Smiles & Frowns – all the easy ways to mark behaviors, manage rewards, review progress, and even invites parents to sync with their child’s board – could really come through to save that teacher some time

The big board in from of the class stays, but Smiles & Frowns still can help that teacher in a whole different way. Now there’s the marvels of modern technology for you.

So, on behalf of my Super Teacher Sister, I’d like to hand out this little assignment today.

Please tell the busy teachers in your life about the Smiles & Frowns app. Present it like a shiny red apple. Maybe it’s exactly what they’ve been looking for.

Maybe you’ll be the Teacher’s Helper today.

Good luck out there, and hurray for teachers!

– Tommy G from Smiles & Frowns

To install Smiles & Frowns for free, just click here!


As I’ve mentioned before, we’re trying to make Smiles & Frowns the best tool to help busy parents and teachers create great behavior plans. If you’ve already tried the app, it’s easy to see how the features are built to support Clarity, Consistency and Collaboration, which are three of our 5 Cs of success.



With this post, let’s focus on the importance of reviewing progress regularly with your kids. Regular reviews are essential because they give you the space to focus on the Consequence of their behavior. They also give you a chance to reset the scoreboard so the Challenge of earning rewards can start all over again. Hello, Cs 4 and 5!

So what makes for a great review? What might you think about, and how can Smiles & Frowns help you? Here are some tips that we think could make all the difference for you and your kids.



  1. Be Consistent.

In the “game” of Smiles & Frowns, kids need to see the results and enjoy the rewards that they’ve earned. This is truly a key to success. If you’re not consistent with rewards and reviews, Smiles and Frowns will start to lose their value fast.

So setting a consistent time and place to review progress – whether it’s every Friday after dinner, the first Sunday of every month, or whatever works best for you – helps assure that they’ll connect their behavior with their rewards. It helps keep the “economy of behavior” strong. And having these reviews at regular intervals also helps them see how they’re progressing over time.

  1. Be Specific.

When you tap on your child’s icon on a board, you’ll see their recent history of every Smile and Frown. The main view simply goes back in time, while the other views group behaviors together so you can see trends. You can even export a report as a PDF and print it out to review, if you like.

Use this view to play back their behavior to them specifically. Focus on any particular Smiles or Frowns that really stand out and discuss them.

If you’ve added any notes to a Smile or Frown – a feature we think you’ll love – you’ll see them here. Weeks later, it may be hard to remember what a “great homework” Smile was about. But if added a note like “you rocked the baking soda volcano” to that Smile, you’ll have a specific success story to relive with your child. Try not to miss those opportunities to help your child feel specifically happy and proud.

  1. Be Encouraging.

Remember, a review is really just a conversation about behavior, with lots of real moments you can you can look back on and discuss. Looking back at Smiles is a great way to encourage your kids. Help them feel proud of their good behavior.

But also remember that Frowns shouldn’t be seen as downers. Looking back at the less successful behaviors is a chance to find areas they can work on. You might even talk about how they could turn those Frowns into Smiles next time, for instance. By the next review, you might have some great new success stories to talk about.

  1. Be Inclusive.

If you’ve got more than one child on a board, don’t be afraid to make it a family affair. We would often review all three of our kids at the same time, so they got a sense of how their behavior affected the whole family. This may not work every time, or might not even work for you at all. But it’s something you can try to see how it changes the conversation.

  1. Be Ready to Reset.

There’s no doubt that Smiles & Frowns is meant to be a bit of a game for your child. It’s that sense of Challenge that will keep them coming back for more.

So we’ve made it easy to reset the smile and frown count right after a review. (Don't’ worry, they won’t lose any of their hard-earned spending power!) Just swipe to the left on a child's row in the board detail view, and you'll see the option to reset Smiles and Frowns.

We did this so your kids could start with a clean slate of 0 Smiles and 0 Frowns as they begin working towards the next review. It’s just a better game that way, because it gives them a fresh new chance to “win” by working to earn more Smiles and less Frowns every time..

As we continue to work on Smiles & Frowns, we are going to work hard to make the reviewing features even stronger. We want to help make regular reviews a snap. We’ve got plenty of ideas on this front, but we’d certainly love to hear what you think. If you’ve got any thoughts, please pass them along to

Good luck out there!

Tommy G


If you’re a parent, you've been here before. On some fridge, on some wall, at some time, you’ve put together some kind of rewards chart to help get your kids on the road to good behavior.

Everybody does it so, a few years back, we did, too. But we never imagined that our little system – which we called Smiles & Frowns – would keep evolving through our three kids. Or that so many friends would ask to “borrow” it. Or that we’d eventually turn it into an app for iPhones and iPads.

(Install it for free here!)

Welcome to Smiles & Frowns! The app is new, but the reaction has already been great. People are finding it. Parents around the world have installed it. Some even think it’s a game changer.

We’re certainly not ready to make that last claim ourselves yet, but we can tell you that Smiles & Frowns is different. It’s loaded with features that no other apps have. Things we hope parents and teachers will love.

Here are the six biggies:

Potential game-changer #1: The 5Cs of Positive Reinforcement

S&Fboard0_cropped copy

As our original board evolved, we started to see that a good system had to support five key things to succeed: clarity, consistency, collaboration, consequence and a sense of challenge for the kids. We even started calling these the “5Cs “ of success.

No other app is built around an approach like this. They’re not features, but the 5Cs absolutely told us what features to make. More importantly, they give parents a bit of a roadmap for success. (read more here)


Possible game-changer #2: Powerful Preset Boards

PresetBoards      BoardDetail   

Most rewards chart apps start with the child and move out. You have to manually attach behaviors, one after another, to kid after kid. It can take forever.

We start with the board and move on. Pick a focus, add your people and get going in seconds. Our pre-set boards include the all-purpose Around the House, deep dive boards like Study Time, Manners Please and Chores & More, and even a board for the classroom called “Teacher’s Helper”.

Every board can be tweaked as you like, and you can always start from scratch. You can even switch between different boards to focus on different behaviors.


Probable game-changer #3: Easy Collaboration with Automatic Sync


With other apps, you put your kids on the board and that it. With ours, it’s just the beginning. After adding your kids, you can also invite a spouse, the nanny, your granny or anyone else to your board, making collaboration easy.

Everyone is linked and automatically synched to your board. No Dropbox, no iCloud. Every Smile, Frown or Reward is marked by who gave it and when. This gives your kids one set of rules and ones set of expectations. Good behavior becomes a team effort.


Promising game-changer #4: A Unique Formula for Success.

Lucinda row

Early on, we realized that just rewarding good behavior was only looking at half of the picture. So we let kids earn both smiles and frowns, and made the difference between the two their rewards buying power.

That’s the formula: Smiles – Frowns = rewards-buying power.

It’s a simple game that kids get easily – and start playing right away. They realize that their rewards-buying power can go up or down, so consequence takes over. Soon, they start owning their behavior, trying to do more of the good behavior and less of the bad, to earn as many rewards as they can.


Conceivable game-changer #5: Rewards Made Easy



With rewards, there’s an old rule of thumb: whatever works, works. But you still have to organize things so expectations are clear. So we’ve boiled rewards down into four simple categories: Money, Time, Treats and Goals. Every reward has its own value, so an “economy of behavior” quickly starts to form.

We’ve included a preset value for each kind of reward, but creating your own can be done in seconds. A Nerf gun for 80 Smiles? Extra screen time for 20? A handful of Skittles for 10? Hey, whatever works, works…



Hopeful game-changer #6: A Clear View of Results


Lastly, we spent a lot of time building out a simple, clear way for you to review performance with your kids. You can review everything by day, by behavior or across all your boards. You can export reports, save them and share them.

You can really see what is going on.

Why did we do this? Partly, so kids could see the Consequence of their behavior. Partly, to give results a little Clarity. Partly, to help you stay on top of it all Consistently. Partly, to keep kids revved up on the Challenge.

But mostly, it all goes back to Collaboration.


If Smiles & Frowns ever does become a game changer, it’ll be because it changes the game for you. The app itself is just a tool on a phone or a tablet. The real goal is to go beyond the device by supporting personal engagements and regular conversations with your kids about their behavior in a fun and positive way.

Now that would be worth a Smile or two.

To install Smiles & Frowns for free, just click here!


Wow, is this really worth a post? Why Smile & Frowns?

I mean, rewards charts use all sorts of things, so it doesn’t really matter, right?

S&F_AppIcon_0004_Layer Comp 5Why not “Checks & Xs” or “Stars & Strikes” or “Thumbs Up & Thumbs Down?”

To be honest, we almost forgot why we first settled on Smiles and Frowns ourselves, and nearly made switching the icons an actual feature of the app. Good thing being tight on app-building money made us think twice.

Because there is a reason, and we think it does makes a difference.

When we started out, using smiles and frowns was just kind of an obvious gut call. It made sense and was a good place to start. But then we ran across the work of a woman named Michelle Garcia Winner. Michelle is a pioneer in the area of social thinking theory, and she developed an approach called social mapping. (She is awesome, by the way, and her stuff is easy to search out.)

What she does is divide behavior into two groups: expected behaviors, which usually lead to positive social outcomes, and unexpected behaviors, which generally lead to social frustration. Sometimes, we noticed, she would have people make lists of expected behaviors  on a worksheet with a smiley face, and unexpected behaviors on a sheet with a frowny face.

That’s when we realized smiles and frowns were more than just symbols. They were more like natural cues that could help kids recognize their own behavior through the reactions of others. You can’t really say that for stars or checks or jelly beans in a jar.

As parents, we thought it might change the conversation from just “was I being good or bad?’ to “how is my behavior connecting with the people around me?”  We just thought that was a better way to look at things as a family.

So we committed. Smiles & Frowns, it would be. They’re cute, they’re catchy and they make a great pair – all of which really matter to kids.  But better yet, they actually mean something.

If you try the app, you might be amazed how quickly your kids start seeing the world, and talking to you about behavior, in terms of Smiles and Frowns, too.

Good thing we didn’t change them.


Install Smiles & Frowns and see what you think.


At the heart of Smiles & Frowns is a simple formula that matters a lot: Smiles – Frowns = Reward-buying power. To tell you why it matters, I have to back up a bit.

When it was time for us to start working on behavior with our kids, we instinctively wanted to take a “positive” approach. Most parents do, right? So we started out by simply trying to encourage the good behaviors, givingSmiles that could earn rewards.

But something was definitely missing. What about those things – like burping the alphabet at 110 decibels at the dinner table night after night – that you just can’t ignore? You want to do something to recognize that moment, but you still don’t want to be negative.

Well, that’s when we decided to make it so kids could earn both Smiles and Frowns, and we’d let between the two become their reward-buying power. Suddenly, something clicked. Suddenly, the kids really started wanting those Smiles and worked hard to get them.

Why? Because we had unknowingly created an economy of behavior, which really changed everything.

Now, Smiles and Frowns were working together to create an actual, predictable value across all of their behavior. A real consequence was now being tied to their all of their actions in a way that added up, so they started owning them more.

(We’ll take more about Consequence, which is one of our 5 Cs, in later posts.)

Smiles & Frowns also became a game kids could easily understand. They realized that their behavior could make spending power that can go up or down, and quickly started maximizing their Smiles and minimizing Frowns to get more rewards.

And now, we had a way to mark bad behaviors, but still keep everything in the land of positive reinforcement. Nothing was ever taken from them (a negative reinforcement thing) unless they took it from themselves. The power was all theirs.

And so they set to it. They simply began to do more of the good things and less of the bad things, so they could earn more rewards, which then positively reinforced… doing more of the good things and less of the bad things. How about it?

Smiles – Frowns = Reward-buying power. It’s a simple formula that means a lot.


Install Smiles & Frowns and see what you think.


Hello world, and welcome to Smiles & Frowns! What started off as a real Mom and Pop and Three Crazy Kids story has lead to a super easy-to-use new app – loaded with unique features – that we hope can restore a little more peace and quiet to the lives of parents everywhere.

If you are parent, you've been here before. On some fridge, on some wall, at some time, you’ve put together some kind of rewards chart to help get your kids on the road to better behavior.

We put ours front and center, right by the front door where it couldn't be missed. Made a big old frame. Nailed it to the wall. So when ours started losing steam, which we found out they all do at some point, we had no choice but to tinker, toy and try to figure out why.


So we just kept working it, in full view of everyone who came in through our door. That’s how we came up with our Smiles – Frowns = Spending Power formula. How we got to the 5 Cs approach. How we created new features we didn't see anywhere else. And how it all started working long-term.

Over the years, people seemed to love the little board we called Smiles & Frowns. Other parents definitely wanted to use it. Teachers we knew wanted to try it. And more than a few thought we should turn it into an app, which seems to have found you now.

Is Smiles & Frowns the tool you've been looking for? We certainly hope so. And if you do like it, please point other parents you know in our direction. They more people that join in, the better we can make Smiles & Frowns work for you!

Thanks, and good luck out there...

Tommy & Cass G