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.
Welcome back to my blog and thank you for reading. After taking a hiatus due to COVID and mom duties, I'm happy to say I am now in a place where I can give back to my readers.
So, what has changed?
1) I am now primarily virtual - upon the pandemic doing what it did, I decided to move my practice to all telehealth so that I can continue to be of service to my clients. Fast forward a year and a half later and I'm still providing therapy virtually to my adult clients. Some exceptions are being made for children under 11.
2) I now work with children ages 3-11 - this has been the biggest shift for my practice and it has bought me full circle to how I intended to begin my career as a social worker. To learn more about the work I do with children, click here.
3) I also work with parents/guardians - in order to help the children I work with, it also makes sense to help guide the parents/guardians too. I mean, who else is going to help that parent/guardian manage the embarrassing public tantrums that we have all been witness to, and let's admit it judged, in the supermarket. ;)
4) I became a Mom - Five years ago I gave birth to a child who is the primary focus of my world - especially when we are dealing with a global crisis. As a result, I took time away from my blog and focused on adjusting to this new life role while also managing my home life, my mental well-being, my practice and the clients I work with.
So, that is it in a nutshell. My practice is focused primarily on working with children and families but I still also love working with adults who are family caregivers, are coping with Multiple Sclerosis and/or as well as other daily struggles.
Moving forward, I expect to distribute a Monthly Newsletter and continue adding to the blog. Be sure to sign up here.
Thanks for reading!
Christine M. Valentin
Structure is something many of us need and may thrive off of. Nowadays, however, our routine and structure have been thrown out of whack. This disruption can leave parents and children feeling frustrated, anxious and overwhelmed. Creating a schedule, as mentioned in my previous blog, can help reduce our stress by making things more manageable. Knowing where to begin, however, can be a challenge. Below are tips that can help you get started.
1) Get Your Child(ren)'s Input - A key factor in getting kids to adhere to a schedule is getting their feedback about what they would like included in the schedule. Ask your child(ren) for one to three things they would like to do each day or during the week. Once they make suggestions, have a discussion on whether they can be included and when to include them. Based on their age, the depth and length of discussion you have will vary but ultimately the goal is to give your child(ren) a chance to voice their opinions and desires.
2) Include the Basis and Must-Haves - all schedules should have the basics like mealtimes (i.e. breakfast, lunch and dinner). Snack time and nap time can also be included, depending on your child's age. Must-have activities/tasks will also vary but essentially can include things like school work, reading, playing, gaming and/or screen time.
I'm also a big advocate for family time. Even though most of us are home with each other all day, that does not equate to us spending quality time with each other. Family time, whereby every one is doing the same thing and interacting with each other (not their devices), can either be done with mealtimes or separately in an activity like movie night.
3) Try to Align All Schedules - When trying to determine the times for each activity/task, aim to match them up to what you have going on. In other words, are you in meetings most of the morning while your child(ren) are learning at school? Is your younger one not in school but you still have meetings to attend? Choose activities/tasks your child(ren) can do without your need for assistance or that keep them distracted enough so that you can accomplish what you need. When you are free, perhaps that is when you can schedule activities/tasks that require your involvement.
4) Be Realistic & Flexible - creating a schedule is meant to serve as a guide, not the end all be all. Given our current circumstances, it is unrealistic to believe everyday will go as planned. Being flexible can entail switching activities/tasks around. For example, if screen time is usually in the afternoon but you are having a stressful morning or have an important meeting, then change it. Let your child(ren) know that the change is occurring for a particular reason so that they know it is not permanent.
5) Make it fun - creating a schedule by hand, on poster board, construction paper, computer paper, or whatever you have around the house can be a fun way to get everyone involved. Painting the background, adding stickers, using crayons and/or markers can be a great way of enhancing the experience and increasing the chance of your child(ren)'s adherence.
Do you have other questions about creating a schedule for your child? Having a hard time getting your child(ren) to adhere to the schedule? Feel free to email me directly for some recommendations. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include age of child(ren).
Christine M. Valentin
Welcome to my blog where I provide tips on feeling more hopeful and in control of your parenting life.