Many children and adults love to play board games. Some of my favorite memories with family and friends are laughing and teasing over a board or card game. When we are having fun, communication flows more easily. We learn about each other. An if we’re lucky, we win! That also means that we had to learn to win and lose gracefully.
Let’s talk about the specific benefits of game playing.
1. Board games build social skills
Think about all that happens during a game. We have to wait our turn, solve problems, sometimes negotiate, or worst of all get sent back a few squares, or to the very beginning. Parents can model these responses and coach their kids to shake it off when it happens to them. We learn to take the ups and downs of games, just as we learn to take the ups and downs of life. So much safer to learn it in a game. Our family always includes good-natured ribbing – but we’re all adults now. There may be room for this depending upon the temperament of your family.
2. Friendships can develop without pressure
There is no pressure to talk, or to make conversation during a game. However, the patterns of playing a game can naturally bring out conversation. No one is under pressure to perform. We’re all too busy playing the game.
3. Games are naturally fun
We play games with our toddlers to get them to eat, race them back to a room or see who can get dressed the fastest. With the youngest of babies, we play the tongue game. We stick our tongue out and they stick theirs out in response. Slightly older babies love peek-a-boo. We are wired to interact with each other. Games are by far the easiest way to make this fun. Just as the games with babies are age appropriate, be sure that the game you chose is suitable for the ages of the people playing them.
…there is no pressure to talk, or to make conversation during a game. However, the patterns of playing a game can naturally bring out conversation.
4. Playing builds relationships
Plato has been credited with saying “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” This is true for board games in general, as we watch interactions, witness the “Atta boys”, “great job”, and commiseration for tough rolls of the dice. Board games are played face to face. We learn so much from nonverbal cues. Much more that actual spoken words. There are also specific games to help us learn more about each other. Examples include:
- Apples to Apples
- What to you Meme – Family Edition
When my children were little, Wednesday night was pizza and game night. They always looked forward to it. I found that if I was upset about something, within 10 minutes of playing the game with my kids, I was laughing. Being happy together brings closeness.
5. “In the book Family Treasures: Creating Strong Families, author John De Frain discusses six qualities that strong, successful families around the world exhibit:” (“Johnson County – Kansas State University”)
- Enjoyable time together
- Appreciation and affection for each other
- Positive communication
- Spiritual well-being (values, beliefs, life skills)
- Successful management of stress and crisis
- Commitment to each other
I’ve seen all these qualities when playing games with family and friends. When our kids are younger, there is no better way to display these characteristics and coach our children in building these attributes. Invite the grandparents as well; I bet they miss a good board game!
So many benefits all while having fun! If you haven’t played games since you were a kid, there is no time like the present to get started. If you are on a tight budget, many libraries and rec centers have games that you can either check out or play on the premises. Have FUN!!