Why Play Games with Your Kids? (Why Join… Part 3)
This post was written by guest contributor Chrissy Wissler.
I’ve talked a bunch about why board game classes and meet-up groups and cafés are great for your kids (part 1, part 2), but here I want to pause and talk about why you should play games with your kids.
Not just dropping them off at classes or with friends at a board game café, where you get to sit down and enjoy your latte or gooey chocolate chip cookie. Now, there are absolutely moments when you should enjoy that latte or cookie. It is important to sometimes simply relax and connect with other adults, to take off that parenting hat for a bit and just be you.
But it’s equally important to take the time to engage with your kids. To connect with them in a way that’s fun—for everyone.
Connect with Board Games
Board games are great for this.
Actually, they’re really, really great at it. When you sit down at the table, your mind can be fully engaged and focused on the game. You’re not checking your phone or email while you play (at least, I hope not). Instead you’re focused on this moment, right there…
With your kids.
How many times throughout the day are we giving our kids our undivided attention? (Be honest with yourself, but do so without judgment or shame attached—just as something to think on.)
Often the one thing our kids want is our presence. They want us to focus on them alone and not the three hundred items from our to-do list or the laundry that needs to get switched to the dryer or maybe even folded.
Our kids want us. They want our focus, our time, our presence.
Playing Games is Family Time
Board games are wonderful for this family time.
Sure you can watch a movie and sit side-by-side together, to share that experience together, which is also cool, but board games (and role-playing games, too) can be the stuff memories are made of. From scraping out a victory together in the final month of Pandemic Legacy Season 1 or maybe that first time your child says, “Let’s play again!”
That’s some pretty cool stuff and it makes for some pretty cool memories.
Board Games are for Practicing Skills
I’ve also written about how board games are wonderful for supporting and growing emotional intelligence. We all face trials and hardships in life, times when we want to cry and let loose some foot-stomping of our own. It’s a skill to learn as we navigate those challenging moments with understanding and compassion and grace. Let’s show how to let yourself feel all that uckiness and then move on afterwards and not spiral downwards in shame.
This is something we, as parents, are often still learning and practicing (I certainly am) and I’ve seen how board games help teach our kids this.
Through board games, kids get to practice feeling everything they’re feeling—and then practice shrugging it off; how to be a good winner and a good loser. It’s okay to run off and cry because you didn’t get to be the purple token (or because Grandma used her special power in Monster Crunch that knocked you out of the game).
But then we can watch as they come back later because they do want to play. They want to be a part of this.
And who better to support our kids through these moments then us, their parents?
Board Games Offer Benefits for Different Kids
The truth is that each of our kids are different. Mine have different challenges than yours and no one knows better how to help my kids than me.
(And you, for your kids.)
For Eric, we’re a long, long way from him being able to play games (even though he’s almost five). Maybe he’ll never play games (at least by the rules), and that’s okay. He still enjoys when I sit down with him and Potion Explosion, even though he just rolls the marbles into the cardboard dispenser and takes them back out again. (Often by dismantling the dispenser, which is a big struggle for me… thankfully, I’ve got the plastic one coming soon. I’m just done with that particular frustration.)
Kate’s got her anxiety, so I’ve learned that speed games, which other kids enjoy, are absolutely miserable for her. Sometimes we try out a new game by being on a team together, to give her that extra support she needs to get comfortable before she’s ready to play on her own.
When we, as parents, show up at that table, when we sit down and give our kids our full attention, we can learn to support them—however they need.
Surprising Benefits I’ve Seen
Actually, I’ve found when I pull out a game because I simply want to play with them, they’re more willing to sit and play, too. They will put down the iPad or Nintendo Switch because they want that social connection just as much as I do.
It is so darn cool to watch when the pieces of the game, whether rules or some deeper strategy, start to come together. You literally see how the awareness clicks in your child’s head, when they have their own ah-ha moment and they start to get it.
Witnessing that alone is worth sitting down at the table. I watch their confidence and comfort grow, the joy and fun they get from playing.
Only then do I realize—wait a minute. I’m having fun, too.
That’s right, us adults, we get to have fun.
We get to play!
And sometimes we just need a bit of a reminder how to do that. Who better to help us remember, than our kids?
How about you? Why do you enjoy playing board games with your kids?
Chrissy Wissler is a professional writer of fiction, parenting blogs and raising differently-wired kids, and also—a gamer. She runs the Homeschool Board Game Club in Torrance, California, sharing her love of games and supporting kids with the community. If you’d like to learn more, check out: facebook.com/chrissykidsboardgames and ChrissyWissler.com.