Using Alexa to Help Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem!

There is no substitute for praising your child. But why not reinforce your praise with some from Amazon’s Alexa? It is surprisingly easy to do – and can also be the source of some great laughs and entertainment along the way!

Preparation:

First you need to figure out exactly what you want to have Alexa respond with when you or your child asks her a question. I suggest writing down several compliments – word-for-word how you would like Alexa to respond.

Second you need to figure out how the question will be asked to Alexa – also pretty much word-for-word. I know it is tempting to think that Alexa is smarter than she actually is – but she is really just a dumb machine waiting for specific que words that she recognizes – and then “she” plays a predetermined response. Yes, the algorithms will get more sophisticated with time – especially since this is a cloud based device – but she really is not as smart as most people think!

Alexa can usually figure out contractions – so no need to worry about that (i.e. she will respond correctly whether it is asked as “What is….” or What’s….”). She also now allows you to phrase the question in a number of ways – and have the same answer from her. So I do suggest you come up with several close variants of the initial question so you and the kids don’t get frustrated because the question wasn’t asked with the precise language you designated. This is an improvement that was made after the initial release of Blueprints – and is just one of the little tricks that helps give the illusion that Alexa is a little smarter than she really is!

Sometimes Alexa also struggles with names – so that is why I used “Alexa, tell me something nice about each of my kids…”

Implementation

Third you need to go to https://blueprints.amazon.com/. You will need to use you Amazon username and password to login here. Once you are in you will want to go to the “Custom Q & A” section and follow the instructions to enter both the questions and responses you already constructed. Use the “Add another way to ask this question” to list the alternative ways to ask your initial question. Again – just a little extra effort at this point to list those alternatives will reduce the frustration later of the kids or you not being able to get the desired responses from Alexa because the syntax of the question asked wasn’t precise.

Fourth you will need to hit “Save” or “Update Skill” (Make sure you do this!!) and give it about a minute or so for your custom questions and answers to be uploaded to the cloud – and then Alexa should be ready to go! That’s it!

Right now – I have about 30 or so phrases set up with customized responses. If you want to add additional questions and answers – no need to add a new skill – just edit your existing Q & A skill and add the additional questions and answers there. Go to the area marked right at the top of the page “Skills You’ve Made

Also, PLEASE REMEMBER – if you type in a custom answer to a question to which Alexa already has a default answer she will use your custom answer instead of the previously default answer. So don’t be creating a custom answer to the question “Alexa, what is the weather today?” unless you really want her to answer that question differently than she already does – with the actual weather forecast!!

Now have some fun with it and use it to build each other up!

Sincerely,

Chip

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Chip
Blessed father of 4 wonderful children & trophy husband to 1 lovely wife. Part-time blogger, full-time nerd & aspiring Renaissance man!
Articles: 179

One comment

  1. We had the same experience with Alexa. When we moved from Germany to the US, and I asked the kids what they’re missing most… answer: “Alexa”. Good that I just had to plug it in ?

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