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3 Steps to Better Parenting and Happier Kids

3 Steps to Better Parenting and Happier Kids

What do Haley Mills and Lindsay Lohan have in common? They both played 13-year-old twins—Ms. Mills in 1961 and Ms. Lohan in 1998—who schemed to get their divorced parents back together in the movie The Parent Trap.

Today there’s another parent trap that’s upsetting kids and their parents—it’s how much time parents spend on electronic devices while they’re supposedly spending time with their (healthy? happy?) children.  

A small, but we think telling, study published in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics found that kids feel like they’re being neglected when mom or dad reaches for the phone. (How many times do you see a kid squirming while his or her parent texts wildly?) But what the study also showed was that parents (and grandparents) are concerned and suffer from the situation too. Turns out they feel torn between their responsibilities to their children and whatever demanding situation is being thrust on them by texts, emails, calls and social media alerts.

So here’s our simple three step plan:

  1. No cell phones in your hand (except for an emergency) on the playground or during a playtime activity with your children.
  2. No digital devices during any meal in or out of the house.
  3. For a full hour (or more) before your child’s bedtime, you stay off the phone and tablet and computer and talk to your child or read a book together.

You will both be happier—and that’s a great step to a healthier life for both of you.

Medically reviewed in December 2018.

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