If your kids are avid gamers, their game time can be your quality time! Getting more involved with your childrens’ play comes with a number of benefits and parenting opportunities. Whether your kids prefer video games, board games, or card games, here’s why you should jump in and play with them.
Research shows that the family that plays together stays together! A study from Brigham Young University found that families that play games with each other tend to have stronger connections. Whether you’re playing competitively or you’re on the same team, games are a shared experience that encourage family bonding.
If your children are especially interested in games, that’s even better. Playing games your kids love with them will show that you’re interested in their hobbies. It can also help you understand the communities around the games, which may give you some extra insight into your childrens’ social lives.
A lot of kids think of playtime as a break from learning, but author and researcher Jordan Shapiro says playing games successfully teaches a number of important life skills beyond just focus and strategy. Games often restrict players with boundaries to create challenge and fun, which shows the value of following rules (just think of how boring Monopoly would be if everyone freely grabbed money and property from the bank). When playing with other people, games also teach emotional regulation by giving players an opportunity to win and lose gracefully as well as work with others toward a mutual goal.
By playing games with your kids, you can also insert your own lessons. A lot of games put players into complex situations that require critical thinking and decision making. When you’re playing alongside your children, you can spot these situations and draw parallels between them and real life issues.
In a healthy family relationship, the parent is the teacher and the children are the learners. However, Sinem Siyahhan, associate professor at California State University San Marcos, says games are an exceptional place to let kids explore the other side of that dynamic. If your kids have games they like and know more about than you, you can give them the opportunity to be teachers by asking them to show you how to play.
Teaching you how to play a game will help your children develop communication skills and patience. You can make the experience even richer for them by asking open-ended questions like “what’s going to happen next?” or “why are we fighting these people?” Even if they can’t come up with answers, just thinking about the questions will help them understand that they’re worth considering.
Don’t know where to start? Check out Education.com’s library of educational games and get your play on!