Board Games Anyone? The Benefits of Family Game Night

JMJ135  *”Although I am partial to Candyland, I especially like games that require mental strength, where I have a stake in the outcome.  Hey Mom, do you think we can invite some friends over and have a game tournament soon?” -my 19-year-old

Ring the School Bell 135/180 Days

Today I enjoyed the Game of Life board game with my ray of “Sunshine”, my sparkling  “Twinkle Star” and sweet “Honeybee” (the girls’ childhood nicknames) Remembering it was a very long game when I played in my youth, I made sure I had set aside a couple of hours to play.  Apparently that was not enough, as it took us 3 hours to complete the cycle of life!    

Melissa and Sarah kept hitting Sabrina and I with lawsuits during the course of the game, each time at a whopping cost of $100,000.  After a while, we would just split the tab.  Okay, so that tactic was not in the rule book, but it was all in fun.  At one point well into the game, Sabrina was given the choice to buy a larger home.  She was pondering the idea, when Melissa, then 12, blurted out,  “Why would you want to buy a new home when you spend all of your time on the road?”  (referring to the small plastic car tokens which we used to navigate through the game of life towards “millionaire acres” or “countryside cottages”)  We all exploded with laughter, and laughed until our bellies ached. 

I actually won with $1.4 million dollars, a small margin of victory over the others. 

I kind of forgot how much fun it is to play board games.

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We have a chest full of games, but the kids are the ones playing Yahtzee, Scrabble, Apples to Apples, Monopoly, Candyland, Battleship and the Game of Life.  

We can get so caught up on what needs to get done as adults that we miss out on this old-fashioned fun.  As the following quote illustrates, even the big kids love board games.

Although I am partial to Candyland, I especially like games that require mental strength, where I have a stake in the outcome.  Hey Mom, do you think we can invite some friends over and have a game tournament soon?” -my 19-year-old

I am all in favor of bringing back the game night!

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What are the benefits of Family Game Night?

  • You really need not read any further than this reason.  It brings the family together, while having a blast at the same time.  The really cool thing is, it can be fun for all ages, and as the kids get older, the games evolve also.  Sarah, my 19-year-old, loves the friendly banter that playing games generates.  Also games are multi-generational, which makes them a great activity for grandparents to share with their grandkids.  For instance, Grandpa Claude and Melissa shared hours of fun together as Sudoku puzzle-solvers.
  • Good sportsmanship skills are developed.  It may take a while, but learning to accept defeat is a valuable skill to learn.  Of course, it is fun to win all the time, but it is more important to learn how to lose a game gracefully, and be happy for the other player.  This comes with age and practice.  Other social skills learned through playing board games include negotiating, following rules, taking turns, sharing ideas, and asking for what you need to move forward in the game.  All these can translate into real life contexts.
  • Vocabulary development can be a side benefit to playing board games, especially with games like Scrabble, Balderdash, or Apples to Apples.  Many times there are equivalent junior games that are more age appropriate for the younger crowd, such as Scrabble Junior or Apples to Apples Junior.  Kids will improve their skills here without even realizing it!  And for little kids learning the alphabet, games like letter Bingo are awesome.
  • Critical thinking skills develop as kids are playing board games and asking themselves the questions,  “What will my next move be?”  “What strategy should I use?”  For us adults, we are exercising and stretching our own minds!
  • Stress reduction through camaraderie and laughter is a huge benefit in playing board games.  Things can get pretty hysterical when our family plays board games.  And the big kids, us, get to be kids again, even if just for a short while!

Rules for Game Night:

  • Turn off the electronics.  Put the smart phone in the other room so that you don’t hear those tempting notification tones, lest you are tempted to take a look and get distracted from the game.
  • Take turns selecting games.
  • Make it intentional.  Don’t wait until you have time, because that may never happen.  Set aside a time, perhaps a Friday evening, to open up the game cupboard and have some fun.  
  • As a parent, be a good role model as you are playing the games.  You may find your little ones emulating your good and bad behaviors, so it may be a good idea to control your emotions to some extent!
  • If your kids are little, a little discussion about winning and losing might be a good idea each time you play a game, until they can learn to practice good sportsmanship.  Don’t give up after a few tantrums.  It takes practice and time to develop these important life skills.  Also, try to match the game to the temperament of your child, and build from there.
  • Don’t be a slave to game night.  Change it up occasionally.  Maybe use that time which you have set aside for a movie night or go out as a family for frozen yogurt or ice cream.

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** Note to the Reader- Today’s narrative is an excerpt of our family’s school journey from a few years ago, during my eldest daughter’s senior year in high school, a rather emotional year, with its many ups and downs.

May God shower blessings on your family as he has on mine.    Annette

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