When our two-year-old gets the hump in public, it’s usually a loud and long affair. Screaming in the supermarket, roaring in restaurants, bellowing on buses… He’s not one to suffer boredom in silence, anyway.
We’re thus absolutely in the market for an app like The Happy Face, which aims to encourage good behaviour while out and about. How? It gets you to take photos of your children, then transfer them between a happy and sad face on-screen.
“If they do something great, move them on to the Happy Face. If their behaviour could be better, they come off the Happy Face. And if they’re being little tikes, they go on to the Sad Face,” explains its App Store listing.
“Happy Face is the fun way for your kids to know when they’ve done something good. And it’s an effective, calm way of letting them know you want their behaviour to improve.”
That’s what we like about The Happy Face: if you struggle to keep calm in the face of a tantruming toddler, it could modify your behaviour as well as theirs. Its developer says it can be used from 18 months to 10 years old, including “children on the autistic spectrum, and for children with ADHD and related behaviours”.
There’s actually a nice story behind the app’s development, in relation to that last point. Apparently the app was the idea of Thomas, the eight year-old son of the company owner, who himself has Aspergers syndrome.
“He doesn’t have to try to work out if my tone of voice or expression means I’m happy or angry or disapproving. He can look at an impassive, consistent chart, and understand visually what is happening,” explains the owner, Noel Lyons.
His family had been using happy and sad face charts at home for a while, but it was only when Thomas said ‘You should get it on your phone Dad’ that the iPhone app idea came about. At 69p, it’s worthy of a space on every parent’s iPhone homescreen.