Of the many things I love to do, playing board games is one of them. Monopoly anyone??? Playing adult games when you are an adult can be fun and exciting, but playing kids games as an adult can be tricky. Depending on the age of your child, it can elicit feelings of boredom, frustration and competition.
In order to avoid this, it is vital to be aware of the potential blocks that can turn a fun, bonding experience into a stressful one that the child and family ultimately avoid. Below are 5 ways to help make playing games a fun, interesting and family bonding experience.
1). It's Not About Winning - at least not on the part of the parent/guardian. Playing a board game should be primarily about the child winning. Now, you may be thinking - "But Christine, how will my child learn not to be a sore loser or about the facts of life, if I let them win?" I hear you and I'm here to say - if you are trying to foster a stronger connection with your child, that starts with you being able to let your child win at a board game.
Hear me out....winning a game is more about the child feeling they have a sense of mastery. This is something they rarely get a chance to feel, especially in relation to adults. Allowing them to feel like they are beating you, can make them feel like the King/Queen of the World - and let's face it, we all want to feel like we have conquered something. Plus, you will also be showing them how to lose fairly.
So, play your best but be sure to not make it about you winning. Also, this doesn't mean you don't win at all. It just means that we want our children to know how amazing it feels to beat someone who seems stronger than you.
2) It's Not About Teaching - another area where I see some parents/guardians get too focused on is trying to make the game a teachable moment. Playing a game with a child should be about the fun of it vs. using it as an opportunity to have them recite their colors, showcase their reading skills and/or define words. Now, if your child offers to do this, then awesome, take their lead. But, be sure to bring it back to the play zone. Your child will have enough time in life to learn.
3) It's Not About Following the Rules- playing games do have rules but this is not the time we have to be a stickler about the rules. Depending on the age of your child(ren), you will have some children that are all about the rules but children younger than six typically just want to play the way they feel like. As long as any other child who is playing is on board to do the same, then just go with the flow.
4). It IS About Having Fun - playing games is about laughing, smiling and connecting during the time you are with each other. When we can learn to let go of what we think game play should look like with a child, and allow our child(ren) to lead, we can end up having a lot more fun.
5) Choose Enjoyable and Non-complicated games - games I often recommend and even have in my household and office include the following - Candy land, Connect four, Memory/Matching cards and Charades. I personally love a charades game called Kids on Stage. This game allows kids as young as three to play and reading is not required. I've even had adults play this game too and it can be hysterical.
Some other games I would recommend for kids 7+ include Pictionary, Guess Who and Jenga. These games can also be played with younger kids but you will really need to flex the rules.
Thoughts? Questions? Feedback? Leave them in the comments below.
Christine M. Valentín
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