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An Economy of Behavior, A Formula for Success

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.

2 thoughts on “An Economy of Behavior, A Formula for Success

  1. Kristen

    I love what you guys tend to be up too. This sort of clever work and reporting!
    Keep up the very good works guys I've added you guys to my personal blogroll.


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