Benefits of Board Games

by: Dan Florell, Ph.D.

Amy turned over the card and was sent back to start. “That’s not fair! Now I am never going to win,” yelled Amy as she grabbed cards and threw them across the room. Amy was last seen running away with tears in her eyes. Amy’s mother followed to go talk to Amy about the reality that we don’t always win every time we play a game.

Board games offer a variety of opportunities to improve children’s life skills. One of the important lessons illustrated in the above example is that we don’t always win every time we play and how to be gracious when we lose. This lesson is an important one for children to learn and board games allow parents to set up a controlled situation for them to learn it.

The advantage of parents playing board games with their children does not end there. The fact that board games are not electronic means that children often have to wait for their turn. Learning how to be patient and wait is a life lesson that children often have a difficult time developing. This skill is made more difficult thanks to technology’s efficiency in getting us what we want as soon as we want it. Being forced to wait and having parents model the waiting process while playing a board game has a positive impact on children’s development.

Another advantage of playing board games is learning how to play by the rules. Children are the most notorious for wanting to modify existing rules to their advantage. It helps their moral development by first understanding that there are common rules that everyone has to play by in order for society to operate. If someone doesn’t play by the rules, bad things can happen and others get very upset at you. A board game is a much better place to learn this lesson compared to cheating on a test at school or in the middle of a soccer game.

In addition to the life lessons board games impart, there is also the social interactions with family. As we become increasingly reliant on electronic communication and entertainment, there is less opportunity to sit down and talk with our children. Yet looking back, no child will remember the time she spent watching another Disney channel show, but she will remember the board games she played with her parents.

This is a perfect time of year to get out some board games and play with your children. Gather up some of the classics and get started playing!

This article was published in the Richmond Register Health Beat Magazine in June 2012.

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