As a parent, it get's frustrating to repeatedly stop my kids from whining or acting up over small or petty things. I thought, why not let Alexa do it on my behalf? My kids love talking to Alexa to ask some random questions or to play animated movie sound tracks. I thought it would be fascinating if Alexa could somehow help my kids obey or teach them to do something right in the middle of their whinings or tantrums.

What it does

Upon invocation, Alexa will ask the kid's name to make it a little personalized. Then Alexa will use the name to tell the child some random funny consequence using Alexa interjections and laughter sound effect. If the kid is still not listening, say so and a new random consequence will be spoken by Alexa. If you say he/she is listening now, Alexa follows up with positive encouragement to tell the child to obey first time next time.

How I built it

I built it using the Storyline platform. I stored all the possible disciplines or consequences in a Google Spreadsheet. The spreadsheet includes SSML tags for the interjections. Storyline allows fetching a random row from the spreadsheet JSON which enables Alexa to speak a random response. For the laughter sound effect after giving a consequence, I used a short audio clip stored on my server.

Challenges I ran into

One of the challenges is keeping the list of consequences updated with new and funny ones to keep the users coming back.

Another challenge is sometimes Alexa doesn't recognize uncommon names or Alexa pronounces the name wrong. The names are limited to commonly used names in the US only (as of now).

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

When the skill was first certified by Amazon, it got a lot of users right away in the first hour or so even before I found out that Amazon has certified it and before I promoted it to the world.

I'm also proud that with this simple unique skill, I'm helping parents avoid stress over some simple or small petty things. Sometimes kids just need to divert their attention to something funny to change their mood or behavior. And I believe this skill contributes to that.

What I learned

I learned that Google Spreadsheets allows accessing documents in JSON format. This is my first Storyline-based custom skill integrated with a Google Spreadsheet and it's cool to learn that integration is possible.

What's next for Discipline The Kids

I also created "Lullaby Songs and Relaxing Sounds" skill that plays music and sound on loops with timer and am also creating a nursery rhymes skill and more.

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