Children often enjoy playing games as well as spending time with their parents and siblings. Combining these two pastimes can be exciting for a child. There are many benefits of board gaming for children such as enhancing social skills, boosting their self-esteem, developing fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination, teaching number, shape, color and word recognition, and encouraging flexible thinking. Board games also help increase a person’s attention span and ability to focus on a task.
How do Board Games Enhance Social Skills?
Board games help children learn important social skills such as waiting, turn taking, sharing, how to cope with losing, making conversation, problem solving, compromising, collaborating and being flexible. These skills are important in school-aged children so that they can appropriately respond in social situations both inside and outside of the home. Games like Candyland and Chutes and Ladders teach children that flexibility is crucial because luck can change very quickly. Children quickly learn that these games are not necessarily about skill acquisition but more about how one may cope with change in a playful environment.
The Ups and Downs between Winning and Losing
Have you ever seen a 4 year old appear ecstatic during a game of Chutes and Ladders when they climb up the ladder? Have you also seen that same 4 year old appear in extreme distress when they fall down the chute? For some children it’s very difficult for them to move down the game board or lose the game. It is very helpful, if parents model moving down the game board or losing with a calm attitude. For example, if a parent is almost at the candy castle, but they pick a gingerbread man and need to move all the way back to the beginning of the game, a parent can say, “That’s okay, maybe next time I’ll pick a better card.” When a parent models a calm response it is a powerful way for children to imitate an appropriate reaction to a difficult situation.
Some Things to Consider when Choosing a Game for Your Child: You can check the side of the board game box for the age range and average playing time. Make sure the age recommendation and playing time is appropriate for your child’s chronological and developmental age.
Here is a helpful list by age to keep your child engaged whether they are a preschooler or a teenager:
|Preschool, Toddler and Elementary School Age||Ages 7 and Older||Teens|
Chutes and Ladders
Hoot Owl Hoot
Sneaky Sneaky Squirrel Game
Don’t Break the Ice
Sequence for Kids
Apples to Apples
Written by Carly Klayman, LMSW