In my work as a play therapist, I encourage parents to play games with their children. What's that, you say? You already play games with your children? Is it Wii, Xbox or any of the other popular video games on the market today? These are all wonderfully entertaining games, but when was the last time your family played a good old-fashioned board game?
Many of the games you played as a child are still being manufactured today. You probably have fond memories of playing Trouble, Monopoly or Sorry. Think of the board games you enjoyed most as a child. Chances are your children will enjoy them too.
If purchasing new board games take into consideration the ages of the family members who will be playing. I suggest Candy Land, Yahtzee, Checkers or Jenga. A favorite board game from my childhood is Hi Ho Cherry-O.
Board games are a great teaching tool because they imitate real life. There are rules you have to follow. You have to cooperate and wait your turn which can encourage impulse control. Board games have an element of learning as well. If money has to be counted, you are learning math. If you have to spend money, you are learning how to budget.
By observing the behavior of adults during a board game, children will learn how to deal with winning and losing. Ask yourself what you are modeling during the game. Do you lose graciously? Do you win without rubbing it in? Sometimes adults will intentionally lose a game to allow a child to win. I suggest you play as well as you can and let the chips fall where they may. If a child is disappointed at losing, it's a good learning experience. Children will be able to take what they learned playing a board game and incorporate it into real-life situations.
Playing a board game provides parents with an opportunity to start conversations with their children. It's a refreshing change from the traditional question, "What did you learn at school today?" When there is tension or distance among a family, a board game can serve as an ice breaker. Don't Break the Ice is a perfect game to ease some of that tension and get family members interacting again.
Because board games provide an opportunity to interact with people, they promote social skills. Board games bring people together, both young and old. That in turn can strengthen bonds between family members. One word of caution: Playing board games together as a family can cause spontaneous laughter, fun and a good time.