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.
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
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
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.
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.