Using Board Games As A Parenting Tool



While Board Games are a lot of fun to play, they can also be used as a great parenting tool too!  There are all kinds of different games that can teach such a wide variety of different things, from basic skills to more advanced life mechanisms.  There are many, many benefits to be had from playing these with your kids.

Kids Crave Parental Attention

Board Game Versus Electronic Game
Given the opportunity and guidance, your kids just might surprise you on which they would choose.

First off, I know that many parents believe their kids would rather play their electronic games versus sitting down to play a board game with their parents.  While this could be true in some cases, the fact of the matter is that kids crave their parents attention, and sitting down to play games at the table with them can bring them that satisfaction.

For a long time in life I have watched from the sidelines the interactions between parents and their kids.  So often I see kids acting up or getting into trouble as that is the only way for them to get their parent’s attention.  As you can see, that is obviously creating a vicious cycle that will lead down a rough path for all parties involved.

Sitting down with you kids for a family game night is a great way to start giving them the attention that they seek.  While it may be hard at first to keep the younger kid’s attention or to even get an older kid to play along, it will work out over time.  The biggest challenge is to just find the time and to do it.

Board Games Provide Quality Interactions

Castle Panic by Fireside Games
Castle Panic is a great example of a cooperative game.

Human beings by nature prefer to be social with each other overall.  Sure there are times when we need our space, but for the vast majority of the time we crave to interact with others in our daily living.  Sitting down as a family and playing together is a great way to help satisfy this need.

In today’s market of games, you can find many different types for a wide variety of interactions.  For example, my family and I have really enjoyed several different cooperative games like Castle Panic.  Here instead of competing against each other you have to work as a team to beat the game itself.

The whole point though is to just get your family and or your friends together to play the game.  The game itself can be the focal point or it can just be the device that gets you all around the table.  From there you can choose to focus more on the game or just spending time with your loved ones.

The Many Benefits Available

There are many different benefits available from playing various types of board games.  You can see a more detailed explanation of these benefits here, but here I will give you a quick overview.

  • Time Bonding
  • Laughs
  • Communication Skills
  • Problem Solving Skills
  • Social Skills
  • Intelligence
  • Structure
  • Keeping Kids Out of Trouble
  • Traditions
  • Legacy

I am sure I could spend a few more hours listing out various different benefits of games, but I think you get the point here.  It is just a matter of finding the games that will help your particular needs and that is one of the reasons why I run this site.  If you ever need any help figuring it out, just let me know!

Using Games For Teaching Points

Parents Teaching Children
Using games is a fun way to help teach your kids

Another great option is to use these games to help teach your kids.  This could be as simple as playing a math game to help them build on those skills, or as subtle as playing a cooperative game to help them learn the value of teamwork.  You could also play Monopoly with them to help teach money management skills.

The key as a parent is to keep your senses open to what is going on with your kids as you play and then use the game time to help them overcome the challenges that they are facing.  In a recent example for myself, I used a newer game that we have been playing to help teach my kids more about being patient and paying attention even when it is not your turn.

It is so much easier to work with your kids to learn things in the framework of a game versus other times as it is an indirect method.  Just like most people, kids can often be stubborn when we try to teach them directly, so by circumventing that with an indirect method you have better chances at success.

Wrap Up

In the end, including board games as a regular part of your family life will help to build better family bonds and offer a plethora of teaching points for you as a parent.  Just pay attention to your kids as you go and you will be able to instill the values that you hold most dear in a way that they will enjoy.

Family Games
Site down and have fun and learn together as a family! Bill Branson (Photographer)

If you have any questions or feedback, please do not hesitate to use the comment section below and I will be more than happy to help you.  Also, if you have any stories that you could share on how your family has used board games to learn I would love to hear them as well.

James W D

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12 Replies to “Using Board Games As A Parenting Tool”

  1. Good article. I started a family games night about a year ago and although it has been hard to keep the kids attention ,as you mentioned, I have had some success!
    My 8 year old daughter is very happy to play along but my 11 and 14 year old sons are reluctant as they would much rather be on the PC and PS3!
    Of the games I have tried, Carcassonne, Munchkins and Smallworld have probably been received the best. Munchkins is a little rude perhaps for the younger kids but my older son loves the humour.
    Have just bought Castle Panic as a quick, fun game and my daughter really enjoys that. I have also heard that there is a ‘My First Carcassonne’ game out there now, good for the younger kids as it is essentially a town-building puzzle game.

    • Thanks for the feedback Russ! Build on those early successes and over time you will see more and more! Not every game will win over the hearts of your kids, but when you can learn how to take it above and beyond the game and make it just a fun night is where you can really succeed.

  2. James, Hi. Thanks for such a delightful website. I just used your search tool for a review of “Electronic Monopoly”. It is a board game that utilises electronic banking (credit cards) instead of monopoly cash. I guess you could call it a hybrid?
    Many questions arise about the pros and cons of this game. One comment I have heard is that the cash doesn’t blow away.!
    I’d be very interested in a road test of this game.
    I agree wholeheartedly with your approach to the importance of parent/child interaction.

    • Monopoly has popped up a few times in recent comments as well as my kids have been playing it a lot lately with their friends. I am in the works at taking look at the game in whole, I will see if I can find a copy of the electronic version to see how it stacks up. Thank you for your feedback, I truly do appreciate it.

  3. Man, this is too true. I often hear of the social connection through an online community, but I can’t think of any tech that will easily replace face-to-face and in house meet-ups for gaming.

    • I have been a part of many online communities with gaming and I can honestly say while I had some great times, nothing beats sitting down together face to face to play a game.

  4. This is a great post! My husband and I are not excited about our children growing up with so much technology in their face. We want our kids to experience childhood similar to ours, playing outside, family board game night, etc. This is a great way to interact with our children in a positive way.

    • Well trust me in that if you make board games an option, your kids will love playing them with you. My kids have established a solid balance between the electronic world and the more conventional methods of play and I am very happy about that. However, I will take a small pat on the back for guiding them to finding this balance and that is what we as parents should be doing. All the best to you and your family and may your game nights be memorable!

  5. Board games are a great way to learn. I remember from my childhood I use to love games that made me use my head and kept me attentive to the different situations. My favorite used to be the Uncle Scrooge McDuck monopoly that allowed me to enhance my math and analysis. It was always o much fun and I even felt a little under pressure when I was playing with my parents or any other kids because I loved to show how good I was with the numbers and the money haha 🙂

    • Thanks so much for sharing your story Andrea. I used to love Uncle Scrooge McDuck when I was a kid. I probably watched every episode of that cartoon, but I never had that game. Monopoly is definitely a great way to teach kids about managing their money and resources.

  6. Helllo James, I totally agree with preferring board games over video games, as well as other activities like puzzles and outdoor fun. I will sure keep this site in my bookmarks, I have a 7 mo. baby but I’m eager to play with him board games, but I think that will have to wait 3 or 4 years :). Thanks for your blog!!

    • Walter, I am glad you found this site now as getting your kids started early makes life a lot easier! There are many games geared towards toddlers so make sure to take advantage of that when appropriate. If you ever have any specific questions always feel free to ask me.

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