Don’t Underestimate the Value of Board Games

Posted by Natalia on April 18, 2013

Introducing board games to our children didn’t come without their struggles of  ‘sore loser’ moments.  My son used to have a really hard time coping with losing to the point where if he knew there was a chance he might lose, he wouldn’t even want to get involved.  This evolved.

When our kids were 5 and 6 years old, we introduced them to the world of board games.  Board games were a staple in our home growing up,  and I couldn’t wait to share those fun days with my kids.

The other day my daughter was out for her social events and my husband was out of town which left my son and I alone with our imaginations on how we would pass the time.  He’s already a creative kid so I knew this wouldn’t be difficult.  He decided that we would play Monopoly – the new electronic Canadian version.

It was written all over his face that he was so happy to play with me.  I decided at that moment that I would cast away all thoughts of wishing to escape from this torture (I personally hate Monopoly), and postpone my to-do list for the next hour.

As we played I turned down buying a property that he landed on in the next round.  “Dammit!  I could have had you if I had bought it when I had the chance.  But no – I’m stupid.”  You should have seen how this comment affected him:  “No Mom.  You’re not stupid.  I don’t think you’re stupid.” – concern and compassion bleeding out of his facial expression.  “I know, I didn’t actually mean ‘I’m stupid’, it’s just an expression for the game,” I said trying to console him.

I came across this article written by Randall Newnham that caught my eye.  Here’s how he says playing board games benefits your child’s development:

Developmental *

It’s a proven fact that kids who play games are smarter; see the research. I definitely want my kids to have every developmental advantage and I fully believe that the type of reasoning that is necessary to play games will lead to creative and analytical ways of interacting with the world. Being able to weigh choices in the controlled environment of a game will help acquire the skills they need to succeed: resource management, weighing long term vs. short term investment, anticipating the actions of others. Exposure to these concepts early on will help them develop a more integrated and multi-faceted view of the world, be better problem solvers and better at
thinking ahead.

(* You should check out the rest of the article here:  because he goes on to describe the benefits of games for:  social benefits, family bonding, exploration, creativity, vocabulary, it’s cheap, they inspire *our* creativity and abstract thought.)

Other than those “formal reasons” for playing games, what your child wants and needs most from you is to spend time with you with no specific outcome beyond just being with you.  It’s such an easy way to boost your child’s self esteem – to take pleasure in him and to listen to him.

“Games don’t need to be overtly academic to be educational, however. Just by virtue of playing them, board games can teach important social skills, such as communicating verbally, sharing, waiting, taking turns, and enjoying interaction with others. Board games can foster the ability to focus, and lengthen your child’s attention span by encouraging the completion of an exciting, enjoyable game. Even simple board games like Chutes and Ladders offer meta-messages and life skills: Your luck can change in an instant — for the better or for the worse. The message inherent in board games is: Never give up. Just when you feel despondent, you might hit the jackpot and ascend up high, if you stay in the game for just a few more moves”  (Read more from this Scholastics here: )

The most surprising part of our day was when he later said to me:   “Mom, [sister] says Sundays are the “boringest” days of the week.  I don’t think they are at all.  I got to do… (this and this and this)… and I got to play Monopoly with YOU.”   Through all the hair-pulling-overwhelming-agonizing-trying times of parenting, those are the moments that make it all worth it.

Don’t underestimate the value of board games.  When my son’s social skills were still lacking, he watched on as we played the games with his sister and he saw how much fun we were having together, he eventually warmed up to playing as well.  In our experience, we’ve learned that if your child doesn’t feel comfortable with losing, don’t force him to play.  DO play with his sibling and allow him to observe what happens when you play, win, and lose.  Always shake hands at the end of the game and say “good game” – this teaches them good sportsmanship – rather than throwing the board up in the air and saying  “I hate this game!”

What games were staples in your home growing up that you’ve continued to play today with your children?  Tell me why you love them below….

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  1. April 21, 2013 at 3:16 am, artsy handbags said:
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    • April 21, 2013 at 8:00 am, Natalia said:
      Thanks glad you like.

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