MOST families have busy schedules. With parents facing challenging and stressful careers and kids engaging in a host of extracurricular activities, many families find that there is no time left to be together as a family. The added specter of a seemingly endless flood of unsettling news makes it more imperative than ever for families to set aside time to communicate.
Board games are an affective tool for family communication. It’s easy to make conversation over a board game. Games set up a relaxing atmosphere, so laughing and sharing stories about school, work, friends and life in general, flow easily from parent to child, and child to parent. The security that family play provides to children and the manner in which family fun alleviates tension are only the beginnings of the perks of playing board games.
Board games increase attention, listening concentration skills. Whether children are moving markers on a board, reading the rules, or determining what three apparently unrelated words have in common, they are concentrating and thinking. As children hear the silly statements which they try to make sense of in verbal games like Mad Gab, they are improving their listening skills. In a world where too many children spend passive time in front of over stimulating and noisy television or computer screens, active listening, and concentration are premium proficiencies to master. When you consider the extensive diagnosis and perhaps, over diagnosis of attention Deficit Disorder developing attention skills becomes even more critical.
Board games also enhance vocabulary. Board games like Blurt and Tribond extend vocabulary. Kids certainly don’t feel like they are studying or memorizing words that emerge at great speed for Blurt or when they connect three unlike items for tribond, but they are learning new words painlessly, spontaneously, and meaningfully. Their vocabulary stretches playfully instead of by tiring tutoring.
Board games encourages higher level thinking skills. Abstract verbal reasoning and creative thinking are involved in Mad Gab and Malarky. They help kids employ several senses at once to determine the correct answer, as they read phrases aloud while listening for the hidden solution. Many games encourage kids to think creatively on the spur of the moment. A little acting goes a long way in improving children’s humor and developing their social skills.
Board games also help to teach good sportsmanship. There is probably nothing more difficult for children to learn than how to function well in a competition world – learning to love to win and to cope graciously with losing go a long way toward coaching lifetime good sportsmanship. There’s no need to cheat when it’s all in the fun of a board game.
All in all, a family that plays together, stays together. The bending communication, fun and laughter of game playing not only provides pivotal teaching opportunities, but will surely keep families close and secure in our pressured world.
I recall with the most nostalgia the times of family game playing, the smell of the popcorn, the humor, the joke, the competition and that sense of kidding that took place.
Quality family time spent playing games allows parents to nurture their children and develop a trusting and caring relationship, which is so vitally important in these unsettled times.
Playing together is an almost magical way to build connection. It’s one of the fastest ways to heal bad moods and minor relationship stress. It brings the family into sync. It creates a happy feeling in your home. Sometimes it’s the only way to convince a toddler or preschooler to cooperate with your agenda. And given how hard life can be at times, my opinion is that we need to seize all the joy, silliness, fun and humour we can get.
Research shows that humour is an invaluable part of smoothing over the rough sports of life, from royal goofs on our part to simple bad luck. Couples who can use affectionate humour to deflate anger have happier relationships. And children whose parents use silliness to keep the day flowing smoothly are lucky indeed.
Some parents say that unless they make instructions to their younger kids into a game, their children are so engrossed in play that they don’t even notice them. Which is likely to work better.
“Little Gorilla, it’s time for breakfast, come eat your bugs and bananas!” and “Don’t you think your steam shovel wants to get in the car now so he can see the construction site on the way to the store?” or “Eat your break-fast now?” and “Get in the car.”
Create fun traditions for your family to enjoy and look forward to them. Not all rituals need to be serious or spiritually joyous, some of the best are silly. But don’t wait for special times; any part of daily life can be made into a game.
Use family voices. Trade roles at the dinner table so that each family member acts as someone else (kids portrayals of adults can be very hilarious). Have a race to get dressed and in bed for story time. Compete at making baskets with the dirty laundry while doing household clean up together. White funny song lyrics in the car. Gentle physical rough housing with some kids as they wake up in the morning can put everyone in a good mood for the day.
Play can be the long sought bridge back to that deep emotional bond between parent and child. Play, with all its exuberance and delighted togetherness, can ease the stress of parenting. Playful parenting is a way to enter a child’s world, on the child’s terms, in order to foster closeness, confidence and connection.

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