Brilliant, or stupid. You decide.

We instituted a new concept into our house today, the concept of the TV token. I had gotten fed up with negotiating over TV/computer with the kids, and decided to put the “power” of when to watch into their hands. So we headed to Target and bought a set of cardboard coasters for a dollar at the dollar bin.

We decorated an old tissue box to deposit the tokens into, and I set a few lot of ground rules. TV tokens can only be redeemed when there is actually time to watch TV. As in, not five minutes before we left the house or ten minutes before bedtime. Each child gets one token per day, plus two extra tokens because I am nice like that. Each token is worth half-an-hour of TV or half-an-hour of computer. No more than four tokens can be redeemed in any given day. If anyone whines about an extra show, or the fact that they had used all their tokens and it was only Wednesday, too bad and they loose the extra tokens for the following week.

I gave each kid their tokens for the rest of the week at 3pm today. The first token was redeemed at 3:01pm, despite my comments that it was a gorgeous day and they already had sunblock on. The second token was redeemed at 3:31pm, and there are grand plans in the works to redeem another two tokens right after that.

We’ll see how this works. Personally, I’m betting on A figuring out how to hoard her tokens first as she has already tried to convince C to combine their tokens together to watch a movie. But I have a feeling the learning curve is going to be a bit steep for the first week or two…



  1. I’d love to know if this works because we have similar concerns with our young daughter. Right now, the time limit is case by case — depending on time of day, other plans, etc. — but almost everything she watches is pre-approved by us because it’s pre-recorded (Tivo), so we have a good handle on how much she’ll watch in one day. I like the idea of giving them the power to decide when to watch and setting a time limit. Thanks for the tip!

  2. Fabulous idea! I wonder if this would work around here, I will have to mull it over and see if I can put it into action.

  3. what a good idea! will you come over and help me out when i have kids????

  4. We instituted something similar here last week as our summer has started. My kids get one hour of screen time in the morning, unless they lose their privileges for getting 3 strikes the day before.

    Then, if they do their reading, school work (a summerbridge page and handwriting exercises), and a chore they can earn up to another hour of screentime in the afternoon/evening. So far it’s working out great!

    Good luck with yours, everything takes a little time for adjustment πŸ™‚

  5. This sounds like one of those wonderful approaches to parenting that I admire, but am too lazy to implement. Kind of like the responsibility charts that are currently hanging abandoned on the bedroom wall.

    So far (knock on wood), tv hasn’t been a real problem here, probably because we have a small one, it’s in a spare bedroom and neither one of us parents really watches it much. Okay, I watch it every night after the kids go to bed while I sew, but my husband NEVER watches tv. Don’t get me wrong – they’d sit and watch for hours if I let them, but they don’t grumble a whole lot when I pop in, turn it off and tell them to find something else to do.

  6. Neat, have to let us know how things go. I couldn’t see it working in our house, at least not right now. Granted it might be a good thing for my husband πŸ™‚

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