Games tend to be a common family tradition, from reunions and vacations to playing a quick game after dinner. It can be easy to fall into not-so-healthy habits with the family, for example, watching television as the source of spending quality time together or children going to their room right after dinner to “do their own thing.” Yet, playing games as a family can be a fun and exciting way to have a few screen-free hours. Here are a few benefits to playing games more often with the entire family and some of our top picks.
Mindlessly Opening Up
One struggle many parents deal with is getting their children to open up. You might ask your teen, “How was your day?” when they walk through the front door, and you might get the typical grunt in response. Or your moody, hormonal preteen might just be in the “shut down” stage, where they think it’s cool not to talk about their social life.
Whether communication is great in your household or needs improvement, a game night once a week can help them begin opening up…without them thinking about it!
“Research has found that making time to play games together supports more effective, open family communication and a greater sense of togetherness,” says the Society of Behavioral Medicine.
One game that can help children mindlessly open up and let loose is You Who?!, a game by EAP Toy and Games. This game is meant to be played with family and friends, and there are five rounds of revealing questions and answers. Throughout the game, players can call out anyone they think is “full of baloney.”
“I was kind of blown away when I was witnessing that kids don’t realize they’re opening up. What they think they’re doing is just playing a game,” says Chrissy Fagerholt, the owner and founder of EAP Toy and Games.
By playing a question-based game like You Who?!, children and teens might share more about their passions, social life, and thoughts without thinking about it. By opening the door and encouraging communication in a fun and mindless way, it can create an atmosphere that allows family members to express their thoughts and feelings.
Another unique aspect about children and teens is how often they change their minds. Their favorite movie might change overnight, yet playing question games like this allows parents to stay more up-to-date with their ever-changing thoughts.
Fagerholt also points out that sometimes, as parents, we don’t give our kiddos enough credit. The classic parenting line, “You’re on your phone, and you’re not paying attention,” sometimes isn’t as accurate as we all think, and Fagerholt saw this firsthand when she played it with her own children.
Playing games can put your kiddo on the spot in a fun way and test to see if they pay attention even when they’re staring down at their screen.
Games & Education
Depending on your child’s age, family game night can be an excellent way for them to continue learning and exploring. For all ages, games can help grow and refine academic skills like math and reading.
“In addition to amplifying academic abilities, playing games is associated with social, mental, and emotional benefits for children,” says the Society of Behavioral Medicine. “Games require us to take turns, cooperate, learn systems of rules, and persist through setbacks…playing family games is correlated with developing healthy social behaviors, increases in self-esteem, and greater motivation to pursue goals.”
For younger kiddos in the family, an age-appropriate game can help them learn math, reading, and motor skills. Children can also learn social skills by playing a game with the family because they will have to be patient, wait for their turn, and listen to the instructions.
For the Little Ones
One game that can get the family nights started is JoinAround Puzzle for ages four and up by Pennycake, which will challenge everyone in the family differently. To start, everyone will come together to put the puzzle pieces in the right spots. There are four quadrants that vary in difficulty. Once the puzzle is complete, play seek and find, 20 questions, and more.
For the Tweens
For elementary to tween-aged, Brain Games Kids will be a fun and mind-blowing activity for everyone in the family. Players will discover fascinating facts and encounter different challenges. Games like this can inspire creativity and excitement towards academics.
Additionally, children start becoming competitive at this age, so playing different games (some that they will lose) will help them manage their competitiveness. The term “don’t be a sore loser” applies to all ages and is an important skill to learn. By teaching them to play competitively, yet, if they lose, not to be angry – is a key skill that even some adults struggle with.
For the Teenagers
Playing games with the teens in the house is an exciting new chapter and opens up a world of possibilities. One problem you might run into as a parent is that many teen-focused games are inappropriate and would be incredibly awkward to play with the family.
The Chameleon card game is one that the teens in the house will want to play. In this game, all the players know the secret word except for one person – the chameleon. There will be finger-pointing and carefully chosen words to determine who the guilty player is.
Another game that tends to get very loud in my family and is definitely teen-approved is One Night Werewolf. This fast-paced game is full of secret roles, accusations, and deceit. It might seem complicated in the first round, but it’s a game you never want to stop playing.