I intentionally give my kids lots of time for free, unstructured play without overcrowding their week with various activities and lessons. But that means that I often hear the phrase “I’m boooored,” which is quickly followed by “Can I watch TV?” Some families don’t need screen time limits. But we do. If you, like me, are in need of a new approach to the never ending, unrelenting, constant requests for television, computer, tablet, or any kind of screen time, try a merit based method. You can allow kids to earn their screen time based on completing certain tasks or exhibiting certain behaviors.

The benefits? Your child will have the opportunity to exercise responsibility and control over how much screen time she has; and she’ll learn time management, making sure that important tasks get accomplished before screens. On your end, you get to set priorities for what needs to be accomplished before tech time. You can also use screens as a reward for positive behavior changes. As always, adjust the list and times to do what works for your family.

Here’s a sample list:

20 min. chores=20 min. screens

30 min. reading=15 min. screens

30 min. outside play=15 min. screens

Play what your brother wants to play=5 min. screens

Get ready for school without complaining or dawdling=5 min. screens

Stay in your seat for all of dinner=5 min. screens

Make your bed=5 min. screens

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