Teach Your Kids the Real Meaning of ‘Like’


Do you sometimes wonder if your parenting efforts make a difference?  Are you curious whether all the rules and reminders you put into place really sink in? You’ll certainly have a chance to evaluate once your child reaches adolescence.

Living in a Social Media World

I recently read a story about how social media affects the brain.


In our world of LIKES and SHARES and the preoccupation with technology, our kids have become trained to constantly search for feedback.

According to Lauren Sherman, lead researcher at UCLA’s Brain Mapping Center, “When teens learn that their own pictures have supposedly received a lot of ‘likes,’ they show significantly greater activation in parts of the brain’s reward circuitry.  

Reward circuitry.  The more ‘likes,’ the more a feeling of being rewarded and valued.  Let’s admit it – we all like to be ‘liked.’ But can these new teens control their urges?

Your Parental Influence Does Make a Difference

I want to remind parents that this is the time when your parental influence DOES make a difference. Your kids will be put in situations when they have to make serious choices. They will feel peer pressure, and they will find themselves considering their family values – and your reactions – as they make decisions about who they are and how they want to be viewed by others.

I often talk with parents who say, “My six-year-old is just out of control. He runs our house!” I listen and then ask a few pertinent questions that hopefully lead them to reconsider their own actions in the role of parent. Being nice and loving is not enough. You are not there to collect ‘likes.’

We all know the longing for approval is especially strong when kids reach adolescence. Will I be the one who won’t take a sip?  How can I not laugh at that chubby girl when everyone else around me is?

If you have laid a strong foundation of love, empathy, sensitivity and openness for your child, your guidance and their conscience will kick in and help them make smart choices. They will value your approval above that of their friends.

Building that Strong Foundation

I have written what I call a “Handbook” for Parents (and one for Grandparents) that includes 10 simple suggestions for facing the hard challenges that parenting poses.


You can purchase a copy of the book from the 10 Great Tips Handbooks page or get a free download when you subscribe to this blog.

There is no definitive recipe for how to raise kind and responsible kids but I think that these suggestions, when coupled with your own common sense, will get you on the right path. And more importantly, they will get your kids on the right path to knowing that following their conscience rather than the total number of “likes” of a photograph or post is the goal.

Start early to help and support your kids and their choices. Be the involved parent; be the teacher and the guide that your child needs.  Don’t let your kids run your house.

And, by the way, whether on Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram or simply because you are reading this, I really do ‘like’ you.


Photo credits: Celebelle and © Can Stock Photo Inc. / dndavis

6 Basic Rules for Kids + Technology

6 Basic Rules for Kids plus Technology

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / dolgachov

I came across an interesting article this week on apps that help you control your use of apps – and other digital distractions!  Have you ever thought about how much of your day is spent on a screen? Most of us think that it’s not much, and yet we keep our phones at the ready in outside pockets, our kindle sits on the desk waiting for break time and a good read, and the laptops are there when we quickly want to know the difference between Instagram and Snapchat.  Now, if we are so enamored with our devices, what about the kids?

I recently gave a talk titled Reducing Kid’s Screen Time … Without the Battle, to a group of parents who were quite frustrated with trying to handle their kid’s use of technology.  I divided the talk into two parts because I felt that there were two distinct areas that had to be considered.

Part One: Your Relationship with Your Kids

Part One included spending a lot of time talking about Your Relationship With Your Kids, i.e. Who is in Charge?  I reminded them that ultimately it is the parent’s job … to parent.  I suggested they give themselves a little test and try being the objective person who looks in on the family dynamic, and then answer that question: Who is in Charge?

Regardless of the whining or the reasoning or the quality of the tantrum, it is the parent who has the power over both the child and the device.  I shared a few basic rules that I feel are important when dealing with kids and technology.  They are simple and straightforward.


1 – Give kids a 10 minute warning before unplugging (and let them keep the timer)

2 – No technology use in the bedroom

3 – No technology use in the car (except long-distance car trips)

4 – No technology use during meals

5 – Devices must be turned off 30 minutes before bedtime

6 – Parents control the central charging station – often the kitchen

Part 2: Your Relationship with Technology

Now I think you see where I’m going with Part Two in the challenge of reducing kid’s screen time, The Relationship With Yourself. This is a very important part of the dynamic because children are copycats, and you are their ROLE MODEL.   Whether you signed up for that job or not, you’re it.

This is where awkward comes in.  We all love our devices.  We defend them as time savers, gold mines of research, our link to friends and family, and so much more. We often deny that we use them ‘that much,’ and we even get mad at store clerks and receptionists who are checking their email and Facebook.  In fact, I’ll bet that you would be truly surprised to find out how much time in a day you actually spend in front of a screen.

Because I want you to realize how your day is spent, and because I want to remind you that you are your child’s role model, and because I think that we all need to make more time to interact with each other, I offer this article.  Become familiar with apps like StayFocusd, Momentum., and RescueTime. I intend to. The more you are in control of your own screen time activities, the more time you will have for your family.


Now, go play with your kids.


How The Kids Spend Their Time Has a Lot to Do with YOU!

How Kids Spend Their Time

Photo Credit: Devon Christopher Adams

Caretakers of children have a really challenging job.  Whether you are parents, grandparents, aunts, teachers or hired baby sitters…

how the kids spend their time has a lot to do with you. 

The very young kids usually find excitement in the simplest things – a cabinet full of plastic tops and bottoms, a cardboard box, a set of measuring cups. Once they get a little older, they often are learning their colors and letters and enjoying the simple magic of stickers.

And then there is the world of electronics….  The iPad, the TV, the Wii, the iPod, and so much more. We used to use the expression ‘I feel like a kid in a candy store,’ when considering lots of choices; now we could even say “I feel like a kid in the Apple/Microsoft store.’

Kid in an Apple Store

Photo Credit: Dru Bloomfield

Using technology has opened up a new world for all of us. We can research, learn, connect and watch. We can like and locate and follow and so many other verbs that we never realized would be at our fingertips. And it is interesting and quite captivating – in fact, it has been shown that every time we ‘click’ our devices, it’s like getting a shot of dopamine, the brain chemical released when we experience something pleasurable. No wonder it calls to us.

So how do you spend your time?

Have you ever really noticed how much of your day is spent on a screen? How the kids spend their time has a lot to do with you.

Your little ones require a lot of attention. They can’t help it – and they often want you to be a part of whatever it is they are doing. They are little sponges soaking up whatever is going on around them, and this often involves imitating you. Think about that when you keep checking your Facebook page or your email.

But sometimes you get tired. I understand. And yet, this is one of the most important times to “be the parent” because how the kids spend their time has a lot to do with you.  While you make dinner or have some quiet time, babies can be in a pack-and-play with several toys. Toddlers can go to that drawer full of plastic tops and bottoms or climb in and out of a cardboard box.

As the kids get older and with your supervision, the electronics can be a great partner. However, using screens should always come with a time limit, and certainly presented as a PRIVILEGE, not a right!

Regardless of the age, there must be time to let the kids know that you simply expect them to come up with ideas of their own. If necessary, you can start them on a task, but after a few minutes remove yourself from the activity and let them play by themselves for a little while. This builds independence and confidence.

Do you need some ideas for that afternoon drag time when your child’s big beautiful eyes greet you with, “Mommy! or Daddy! will you play with me?”

Send me your name and a little background about you and your parenting challenge, and I will get back to you with possible dates for a free 10-minute phone session. click here to send me an email.

The Research

All the research today says that kids under two should not be exposed to electronic devices. There is too much to see and experience in their new world. Kids over two should spend not more than two hours a day with electronics. 

This is a challenge as they get older and have cell phones and iPads and even computers required for school work. You can figure out what works for your family. But just remember how the kids spend their time has a lot to do with you. 

Be a role model

Spend Quality Time with Your Child

Photo Credit: Personal Creations

Put away your phone or computer at some point every day, and spend quality time with your kids – regardless of their ages. It’s a win-win.