In our busy lives, it is difficult to make time just to eat dinner as a family, let alone spend extra time with family bonding activities, but the benefits of family bonding time are undeniable. Instead of parking in front of the TV in the evening, take a half hour to do something fun with your children. You could read with them, ride bikes, or simply talk to them – about their school, their friends, anything that comes to mind.
Maybe the best bonding time is playing a game. It encourages good traits like critical thinking, teamwork, and healthy competition. And there are numerous games that will give you plenty of time to let your kids know you care.
Benefits of Family Bonding Time
It’s common knowledge that kids who spend time with their parents are more likely to succeed, but the benefits of spending time together go much deeper than just future success. Families that regularly spend time doing activities together at home have a much stronger emotional bond and are better able to cope with change and grief.
Children who regularly spend leisure time with their parents perform better academically, especially when their parents participate with homework. These parents are also more likely to be familiar with their children’s friends and their friends’ families, so they can help their children stay away from trouble. Children who spend time with their parents also experience fewer emotional issues. By regularly spending time with your children, not just taking them on vacations or buying them things, you are setting them up for a better life both in and out of school and beyond.
Great Games to Play at Home
You may already have some favorites, but the following games are great to spend quality time with your family. Many of them have other benefits, as well, so you can maximize your time together.
- Board Games: One of the most traditional ways of spending family time together is playing a board game. While there are hundreds of games to choose from, there are a few that have extra benefits for your child – and maybe a lesson or two for you!
o Life: In the game of Life, players try to make it through the game board by succeeding at life’s basics while everyday problems trip them up. It’s great game to show your children that being an adult isn’t easy and to introduce them to some of the responsibilities they will encounter as they grow. Life teaches lessons in a fun, low-key way.
o Clue: The classic game of who-done-it! Clue encourages critical thinking by presenting children with clues to solve the mystery. Clue is also available in lots of themes, so you can play as your favorite characters.
o Scrabble: Help build your children’s vocabulary and improve spelling with the classic word game. Keep a dictionary handy and encourage them to consult it to discover new words to add to their lexicon.
- Creative Games: Help get those creative juices flowing with lots of laughter. Games that involve drawing, word association, or acting will not only promote your child’s artistic side but will also help them bring a creative approach to problem-solving.
o Pictionary: Pick a card and get your team to guess the word by drawing it out! For young children, this can help to hone their fine motor skills, but a perfect drawing isn’t the main goal. Children can also learn how to attack a problem from the side by drawing a series of pictures that add up to their word or phrase. This is guaranteed to bring lots of laughs.
o Apples to Apples: A relative newcomer to family game night, Apples to Apples has taken off like wildfire. Players match people, places, and things to adjectives and earn points by providing the best answer, according to the person who is judging. This game helps children to build connections and can help vocabulary. It also increases their interpersonal skills as they evaluate the personality of the judge – will they pick the funniest answer? The most literal? This game is perfect for a big group.
o Catchphrase: Think fast to get your team to guess the right word! Like Pictionary, each person is given a word and must make their teammates guess the word by describing it. But, while Pictionary is about drawing, Catchphrase is about fast talking. Great for vocabulary and quick thinking, this is a game to add to your repertoire.
- Outdoor Games: When the weather is nice, take advantage of the fresh air and bring some competition outdoors. It is a great idea to exercise together as a family, but a slower-paced lawn game is perfect for a weekday evening.
o Cornhole: A staple at tailgates and backyard barbecues, cornhole is a great game for the whole family. Get a set like Baggo, with your favorite sports team, or even customized with your family name, and get to tossing! Children will develop hand-eye coordination while enjoying the competition with their parents.
o Croquet: Indulge your British side with this classic garden game. Croquet can boost hand-eye coordination and discipline while the kids have a blast knocking the ball through the wickets. Add a little creativity by challenging children to create their own course to liven up the traditional path.
o Tennis: Even if you don’t have access to a court, you can hit the ball back and forth in the backyard for an impromptu game. Kids may even absorb a little algebra and trigonometry as they observe how the ball’s flight is affected by the angle of their racket.
Keep Competition Under Control
A healthy competitive spirit can make a game more fun and will benefit children later in life, but you must be careful that competition does not get out of control. Discourage harsh taunting and “trash talking” and set a good example by praising rather than criticizing. Show kids how to demonstrate good sportsmanship, whether it is on the field or just over a board game.
Remind kids that their goal is not always to win, but to have fun and enjoy the company of their friends and family. With some practical boundaries and supervision, you can ensure kids benefit from their play with a little learning and a lot of fun.