Summertime is upon us, so I’m here to offer a few tips to help you avoid power struggles over devices and endless rounds of, “I’m bored!”

Step one is to immediately fire yourself as your children’s entertainment director. You are hereby never again responsible for their happiness and boredom. A good preventative measure would be to hold a family meeting to tell your children about your resignation and to brainstorm ideas about what they want their summer to look like.

So often, the only times we explore our own cities is when out-of-town guests arrive. Have the kids plan some fun field trips to the zoo, local state parks, museums or whatever floats their boats. Replace their devices with an “I’m bored box” that contains fun items such as puzzles, comic books, craft supplies, card and board games, or sketch pads and paints. You might give them a budget and allow them to shop with you to pick out these items.

Brainstorm ideas about how they could spend time in nature. Find good spots to view sunrises and sunsets. Provide supplies to let them build a sandbox or a tree house. Or just buy some boards, hammer, nails and rope to let their imaginations go wild. Little kids will spend hours playing with big appliance boxes. At a recent weekend camp I ran for grade school girls, we laid out on a tarp late at night and stargazed for an hour and many of the girls experienced their first shooting stars. They were in awe. Plant vegetables and flowers of their choosing in a garden; kids love to get their hands dirty. Find some good trails to hike or some creeks to walk up. Have camp fires and s’mores in your back yard and you’ll attract lots of neighborhood kids and parents.

Discuss what new hobbies your kids would like to explore, like learning how to play guitar, taking a photography or cooking class, or putting up bird feeders and researching what types of birds live in your area. Activities like these are so much more valuable than wasting time in front of screens. And if given the autonomy to choose them, kids become far more engaged in them.

Speaking of screen time, make some agreements about when, what type and how long they can be on phones, tablets and video games. Make these agreements with a lot of their input so it feels like a win-win; that will ensure much better cooperation and accountability.

One of the keys to this process is listening to what your kids want versus making them do activities you sign them up for without first consulting them. Once they’ve made their choices and have the supplies needed, it will be much easier for you to respond to any, “I’m bored!” comments with, “So what will you do?” And when invited, put your devices away and join them outdoors or wherever they are having fun.

Tim Jordan, M.D., is a Behavioral Pediatrician who counsels girls aged grade school thru college. Listen to his weekly podcast, Raising Daughters, to gain information on raising strong, resilient girls. For more info on Dr. Jordan’s retreats, summer camps and books visit