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?
Why 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.