As adults, we sometimes make small unconscious mistakes that might be inadvertently ruining family game night. Below you’ll find seven parent pitfalls, as well as seven recommendations for ROCKING family game night with your kids!
In our house, we believe game night is a way to bring families together; that it is the perfect opportunity to ditch screens and truly connect with your kids.
When we talk about how much we love family game night, we sometimes get a “That’s so great, but family game night never works for us because…” type response from other parents. We’ve heard stories of fidgety kids, spaciness, excessive whining, tantrums, as well as complaints of Candy-Land-boredom from parents.
When we play games with other families (or talk with other parents about game night), we see and hear small unconscious mistakes that might be inadvertently ruining family game night. So we want to share a few tried-and-true tips for making the best of family game night at your house.
Below you’ll find seven parent pitfalls, as well as seven recommendations for ROCKING family game night with your kids!
7 Mistakes We Accidentally Make As Parents That Can RUIN Family Game Night
Unconscious mistakes that we adults do that might be ruining family game night:
1. You might be ruining family game night if you find yourself saying, “Your turn.”
You might be ruining family game night by constantly telling your kids, “Your turn.”
Here’s why — You’re teaching your kid NOT to pay attention to the game because he or she can rely on you to let them know they’re up.
We don’t want to teach our children impatience and bad manners inadvertently. Your little one will pick up this habit over time, too!
We had one of our girls’ friends over for game night, and after literally every turn, this unintentionally ill-mannered child told the next person in line, “Your turn.” It felt like we were speed-racing through the game.
Instead of reminding your kids it is their turn, sit patiently and wait for your kiddo to notice the silence. When they look your way, make eye-contact, kindly smile, and say nothing. I promise, they’ll ask you, “Is it my turn?”
This shift empowers your kiddo to take responsibility for their turn, to pay attention, and to show the same respect to other players!
In the end, game night is about family connection. Don’t rush the experience!
2. You might be accidentally ruining family game night if you’re not using Playdough.
Have you got a wiggler in your family? Some kids have pent-up physical energy that they need to get out. If you find yourself irritated by your child’s fidgeting, that annoyance will eventually show up in your overall mood.
Give your fidgety kid a quiet outlet for their extra energy. If you’ve got a wiggler in your family, try a simple fidget spinner or a 99-cent container of playdough on your next game night. It will keep their fingers active allowing them to focus on the game.
Even at twelve years old, Gamer Daughter 2 still has too much physical energy for sitting still for a board game like Catan for an hour.
Our little lady started with Playdough and eventually graduated to knitting between turns.
3. You might be accidentally ruining family game night if you’re only picking games you think your KIDS will like.
If you’ve got younger kids and you’re playing boring board games because you’re sticking within recommended age recommendations — STOP.
We donated games like Candy Land, Sorry, and Zingo when our girls were in kindergarten and upgraded to “adult” games when our kids were tiny.
Be selfish. Introduce your young kids to complex games that YOU enjoy playing. The more fun you have, the more fun they’ll have.
Here are some strategic “adult” board games where little kids can partner-up with an adult and ROCK:
4. You might be ruining board games for your kids if you’re playing at the wrong time.
If you’re planning your family game night in the evening and your kids are exhausted from the day, chances are neither you or the kids will have much fun.
Redefine “Family Game Night” to meet YOUR family’s needs. If you’ve got young kids, who are zonked by six o’clock start your family game “night” at three in the afternoon. Make adjustments to ensure your kids have the mental energy to participate fully.
Gamer Daughter 1 (meet our gaming family) is an early riser, so we never play games after seven o’clock. She is most alert at the start of the day, so we’ve embraced that! During the summer, we’d play games on the patio over breakfast. I’m pretty sure our neighbors think we’re freaks for playing games with our kids at 6 am in the morning.
5. You might be ruining family game night if you forget the snacks.
You’ve undoubtedly heard the catchphrase, “Forgive me for what I said, I was hangry.”
Hungry kids can’t focus and often behave poorly.
Feed your crew before game night or have snacks on hand. Avoid sticky or gooey snacks to ensure you keep your board games clean. We love this collection of Chex recipes for game night.
6. You might be ruining family game night if you only play games at home.
If family game night feels stagnant, shake things up. We love playing games on the go.
Get out and adventure. There is no rule saying you can only play board games at home. Grab a bag, pack a few of your family’s favorite games and get out of the house.
In the winter, we love walking to local coffee shops to play a game with the kids. We have a few small, fast games that we bring to restaurants to play before dinner! If the weather is nice, consider playing games on a picnic table at a local park. Playing alfresco is the best! If you’ve got a camping trip in your future, be sure to check out this list of games to pack for your trip.
7. You might be missing the perks of game night if you don’t have an ongoing date with your family on the calendar.
Smooth family games nights take practice. Board games require patience, good manners, concentration, and memory. These are all great things for our children to be working on, but these lessons also require repetition. Having a regular reoccurring game night pre-scheduled on your family calendar helps ensure everyone has fun.
Plus, let’s be honest… Life tends to happen.
Commit to connecting with your family. Set a standard date, for example, the first Friday of each month, as an easy way to guarantee the event shows up on your family calendar. Be realistic! Pick a time frame you know you can stick to, and you’ll ensure the kids won’t be disappointed with cancellations.
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