Life can get so busy sometimes that it becomes hard to set aside time as a family. With school, after school activities, playdates, homework, the last thing you want to do is something that isn’t going to be enjoyable in the limited amount of “free” time you have together.
Board games are a great way to unplug and reconnect as a family but also have many other benefits. We have outlined the key ones in this article along with some tips to get more game time as a family.
Benefits of enjoying board games with your children
- Great way to bond and improve connection: Board games are a great way to get the whole family to sit down in the same spot for a decent length of time without other distractions. It’s amazing how the conversations flow when you’re having fun together as a family. I am surprised at how much I have learned from my children when we’re playing games together
- Teaches conflict resolution: Board games are a safe way for your children to practice conflict resolution and for you to role model how to do it well. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing your child apply what you have taught them to negotiate a situation. A great thing to do at the beginning of a game is set out what rules you are playing by so everyone is on the same page before you start. My kids have taken this wee tip and used it at school, and it saves many disagreements if everyone knows the rules before starting something
- Teaches how to handle losing: Some children can struggle when they lose a game. Through role modelling and practice you can help your child to enjoy games without the tantrums. It’s also a great opportunity to praise your child for how they played the game, not whether they won or lost. Our oldest son has always been very focused on winning but over years of playing games together, he has learnt that winning isn’t everything and it’s more important that everyone has a good time so that they will want to play with you again.
- Promotes learning: Board games by their nature require children to pick up and practice new skills. Through board games your child will learn how to take turns, how to follow rules, how to play with others, how to pick and choose their battles and be patient
- Improves language: Board games also increase a child’s language skills. We had a child who was a very slow talker and needed speech therapy. Playing board games was one of the strategies that the speech therapist used to improve her speech. Even a quiet child will talk more while playing a game they enjoy
- Improves teamwork and communication: There are some great team based or cooperative board games out there. They are fantastic for helping improve communication and teamwork. These games often require a lot of interaction, negotiation, and communication to succeed. A good introduction to these sorts of games is Forbidden Island which we just love playing as a family.
- It helps your child unplug: I don’t know about you, but our teen is addicted to video games. If we let him, he would play video games all day! I always feel a victory when he isn’t staring at a screen. Many parents I talk to have this problem as their children get older and a board game can be a great way to get them off screens. Something that’s worked well for us is to use what they love and play it in a different format. Our son loves Minecraft, so Minecraft themed board games are a hit with him as is anything to do with Star Wars.
Ok so board games are good for my kids, but how do we find the time to play?
It can be really challenging finding the time and buy in to play a game as a family. A lot of kids just want to plug in when they have some free time to get online or play video games. Here are some tips to help you get them to the table for some quality family time:
- Communicate: Get your family together to talk about how important it is to spend time together. It’s important that your kids know you enjoy their company and want to do more things together. While we find that board games are a great family activity, find out if there’s anything else your children would love to do together. Remember they are more likely to buy in if you involve them
- Agree on some time each week: Discuss ways to introduce regular family time together. Agree on days and times that work best so that you can all relax and unplug to spend time together
- Set some limits around screen time: We have found agreeing on limits to screen time at home has worked well with our teen. It’s important to be up front about why some balance is needed (spend more time together, improve overall wellbeing etc). If you agree on some ground rules, it enables time for you to do other things as a family together without constant requests for screen time
- Find games that align to their interests: There is a board game for just about every interest and theme. A good way to get your children interested in board games is to find games that appeal to their interests. My son for example is a huge Marvel and Star Wars fan, a game with either theme is usually a hit
- Explore a board game café: Board game cafés can be a great way to introduce new games to your family to try before you buy. It’s great to be able to search through shelves packed full of games that your children can just pull off the shelf and try.
You’ve convinced me but where do I start?
There are so many board games out there and each year there’s an overwhelming amount of new releases. The good news is if you’re just starting out and want to enjoy some quality board game time with your family, we have some tips and info that can help.
A good place to start is to read beginners guide to board gaming over at boardgamingparent.com. It will run through a few things to consider before you start spending your hard-earned money, and hopefully mean your family game time is more hit than miss.
Hopefully by now you have a good handle on the sorts of benefits your children can enjoy through quality game time with their family and how to make a start. Good luck and remember every family is different and while these tips have worked for us you may need to try a few things and adjust to make it work for your family.