Benefits of family game time

I remember how we used to spend hours of fun over a game of Monopoly or Scrabble.  These games were definitely not without value to us; socially, cognitively and emotionally. It still adds value to our children’s development, the difference being that we might not get as much time to play these games anymore.

Here are a few advantages of playing games together:

  • It is a fun way to strengthen the family relationships which often suffer under tight schedules and routines.
  • Games such as Pictionary promote teamwork when one participant's contribution can create humour, fun and influence the whole team's performance.
  • It strengthens acceptance for rules.  No one likes to play with a 'cheater’. 
  • It promotes adaptability to changes when the rules of the game need to change, when playing Uno for instance, and you need to change direction or miss a turn.
  • It enhances focus and concentration (e.g. memory game), when players need to focus on other players’ moves, memorise the position of cards and plan and execute their own moves.
  • A game of Jenga teaches acceptance of mistakes because one wrong move can result in disaster. 
  • Chess is a great example where players learn to predict and plan ahead. You cannot simply make a move without considering the consequences. 
  • It helps to manage impulsiveness while players need to wait their turn. A fast response can result in a wrong decision.
  • Scrabble helps with word construction and spelling while Trivial Pursuit promotes general knowledge.
  • Games build self-esteem when progress is noted, a game is won or simply by sharing family time.

The list can go on. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose and in both situations, there is a lesson to be learned.

A few tips when playing games:

  • Game time should be fun!
  • Make sure the game is age appropriate, if it is too difficult; make small changes to meet your needs.
  • Discuss the rules and expectations before the game and stick to it.
  • Play fair.
  • Do not make fun of other players.
  • Guide young players through emotions such as disappointment, anger or sadness by recognising the emotion and give an alternative to express that emotion. This will allow the child learn to self-regulate these emotions.

    There is no better team player than a good winner and a better loser.

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