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How Playing Board Games With Kids Develops Healthy Adults.

As our society moves more and more toward technology and though we are told we have more “free” time than ever, it often does not feel that way and the combination of these two occurrences leaves children the unwitting victims of circumstance.

Many children today are being left to the caretaking of technology - it’s easy in our busy, often hectic, lives to let technology become the babysitter, the diversionary tactic. Televsion, IPADS, Video games, (which I myself love) and phones. While technology has it’s place and is something valuable it has left us in a precarious place as parents often facing a time crunch between work, social obligation, aging parents - just living. We no longer or rarely come together and share family dinners and evenings playing board games and while we tend to watch movies together as a family, and it is fun, this type of togetherness is very different from that of the bonding over a board game or an event or an outing such as a visit to the zoo or local museum.

So what benefits do children get from board games beyond that it is cheap entertainment? Quality time spent with you, bonding and the chance to see you in playful way - to be playful together which strengthens relationships. It is healthy for everyone. All the social and educational lessons involved in playing games both cooperative and tradtional are an added bonus and an engaging way to teach your child valuable social and life skills that include everything from counting and managing money to turn taking. Playing cooperative games is a fun way to create the value of teamwork, sportsmanship and community from an early age.

Playing games with kids should be organic in lessons. Don’t let your children win all the time. Learning how to lose and cope with loss is a valuable skill as an adult. Let a different person pick the game each time you play so that everyone has a voice. Stick to the rules of the game or change them slightly as a family to suit your needs - do not let the child reinvent the rules to control play or winning. In life we must follow directions and rules. Don’t let your child cheat - call them on it carefully. “I think you took too many steps.” “You already rolled once.” This teaches honesty, accountability and integrity. Lead by example. If you have a child who really hates to lose and is over competitive and it becomes an issue despite your conversations try playing more cooperative games and fewer competitive games for a while to build cooperation skills.

Make this a technology free time. Put cell phones away, turn off the TV and shut down computers. Make this a time to totally engage with your family. One night a week you eat dinner together and play board games. A chance to cook as a family or perhaps order in a favourite meal.

Some of the benefits and skills your child will receive from just a few hours of play a week are listed below followed by a list of great games but the main benefit is undistracted time with you.

Social skills benefits - here are just a few:

  • Turn taking and waiting

  • Learning to lose and win gracefully

  • Communication

  • Team work

  • Sportsmanship