13 Vital Life Skills Kids Learn Playing Board Games

Yahtzee board game
Board Games Teach Life Skills

Is family board game night a lost tradition? In many homes board games are dusty old relics left on the shelf until they are donated to a local charity. But have you considered that perhaps the more kids play board games, the better adults they become?

We have gone through spurts in our house of playing games often to rarely. But recently we have revived the gaming tradition and I am finding some very big benefits to getting out the old Uno cards. Here are some of the benefits we have experienced in our family through consistent non-electronic game play.

 

13 Vital Life Skills Kids Learn Playing Board Games

  1. Face to face time with real live human beings. So much of the interactions our kids have today are with inanimate objects. Through their phones, ipads, and computers they are able to distance themselves from others and lose the social skills that come from face to face conversations. When kids play board games they are forced to look another person in the eye, talk and communicate. This can teach valuable social skills and cues that you can’t pick up over a text message.

2. Learn how to be a good loser. In this day and age when kids are given trophies just for showing up, it is hard for them to lose, and to lose graciously. When you play games with small kids they might get upset when you don’t throw the game to let them win.

I debate on this myself during a heated game of candy land when I happen to draw the ice cream card and am guaranteed the win. Do I sneakily put it back and choose another card, or let my 4 year old learn how to lose? Honestly, it depends on the day.

By learning how to lose, your kids realize that nothing horrible will happen, they will survive not always winning, and it can help them to be stronger in other areas of life that might be challenging.

Kids Play Board Games
Learn to Be a Good Loser

3. Learn how to be a good winner. On the flip side, it is equally important that kids learn how to win. Many children will gloat, or brag about their win, but the more you play games together they will learn to be gracious and congratulate the other players on their good game. In our house the winner cleans up the game which softens the blow to the losers.

4. Problem Solving. Even in games for very small children there is problem solving involved. The players are required to think through a strategy and decide what actions to take. Then they must live with the consequences. It can help kids to see that there is a planning phase, an execution, a course correction and then more execution.

When they face a problem in the game it can be helpful to point out to them how great they are doing at solving this problem, and even correlate it to things they face in life. Our family likes the game of Risk, and this involves much strategy and planning. It is fun to see this aspect of their personality develop the more we play.

Mom and daughter playing yahtzee
Learn Problem Solving Skills

5. Teach Cause and Effect. When gaming, there is a direct cause and effect relationship. I put down a +2 in Uno and the next person must draw 2. Cause and effect. I really like this because it helps them see that there is an impact from their behavior and decisions.

6. Patience. Oh my goodness. Sometimes this one kills me. We have a few members of the family, names withheld to protect the innocent, who take forever to complete their turn. I’ll admit we often get annoyed and tell them to hurry it up, but what a great way to learn patience for grownups and kids alike.

7. Taking Turns. This is especially important for little ones playing games who are still learning to take turns, but the process of waiting and letting others go and then having your turn is a vital life skill. Even some bigger kids could use this reminder when gaming!

8. Importance of Following Rules. Every game, no matter how simple, has rules. If you follow the rules you get to play the game. If you choose not to follow the rules you could be asked not to play or others might choose not to play with you.

When I was teaching my youngest to play Candy Land it took until she was almost 4 for her to understand and follow the rules. And now I often remind her that breaking the rules will make others not want to play the game with her. She still cheats at memory and peeks at the cards, but heck, she is only 4.

9. Reading skills. Give kids the chance to read the rules and explain the game to you. This improves not only their vocabulary as they read new words, but also their comprehension. This can apply to all levels as kids age into more advanced games like Dungeons and Dragons and Risk. Let them be the leader of the game and ask them to clarify the rules when you don’t understand. They love being the boss!

10. Imagination. While many games have a structured way to play, some allow for creativity and imagination. Be sure to add a few of these into the mix. Games like Pictionary, Guesstures, Telestrations, and Dungeons and Dragons all allow for imagination and thinking outside of the box.

Kids Playing Board Games
Play Games That Require Imagination

11. Math skills. Add up the dice. Count how many squares you move. Pick cherry’s off the tree. Almost all games give players the chance to count and add. I loved playing Uno with my kids when small because they got to match like colors and numbers, and I could ask them the number each time so they got familiar with what it looked like. Sneaky education right there!

12. Teamwork. Find some games that require teams to play. When the kids play board games together on a team they learn to support and cheer one another on, to rely on the strengths of others and also to let their own strengths shine. They also see how much more can be accomplished working together.

13. Fun! While it might feel like work at first as you teach kids the life skills to be a fun game player, when kids play board games together, it is so much fun! You will have more laughter, happiness, and joy in your home by adding in regular board game play to your routine. And how important it is in this stressed out, over worked, anxiety ridden world to have small slice of fun daily.

Our Favorite Board Games by Age:

2-5 years

  • Hi-Ho Cherry O
  • Cooties
  • Don’t Break the Ice
  • Memory
  • Candy Land
  • Chutes and Ladders
  • Richard Scarry’s Busy Town
  • Pick up Sticks

6-10 years

  • Monopoly
  • Yahtzee
  • Memory
  • Battleship
  • Connect 4
  • Checkers
  • Chess
  • Telestrations

11-14 years

  • Dungeons and Dragons
  • Masterpiece
  • Monopoly
  • Yahtzee
  • Risk
  • Battleship
  • Connect 4
  • Checkers
  • Chess
  • Telestrations

15+ years

  • Dungeons and Dragons
  • Monopoly
  • Yahtzee
  • Risk
  • Battleship
  • Chess
  • Telestrations

All Ages

  • Clue
  • Uno
  • Life
  • Twister
  • Jenga
  • Mad Gab
  • Scattergories
  • Mexican Train
  • Guesstures
  • Pictionary

Hope this has inspired you to dust off those old Phase 10 cards, get out that relic Trivial Pursuit board game out and PLAY!!!

 

 



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