In Praise of Family Game Night

In Praise of Family Game Night

Life seems to move so quickly these days. We’re all in a hurry, our attention spans are getting shorter, and OMG, the kids are always staring at screens!

What’s one way to get a little respite from the madness? Family game night!

According to Psych Central, the Internet’s largest and oldest independent mental health online resource, family game night is important because…

  • It connects family members to each other. We are living in a time of increasingly individual and solitary activity, with each member of the family going his own way to pursue individual interests. As electronics have become cheaper, it’s no longer unusual for children to have their own TVs or computers. With on-demand TV, families no longer even have to watch the same shows at the same time. An hour or so a week of family time playing together helps reconnect everyone.
  • Games teach important life skills. To win a game, one has to follow the directions, take turns, be patient, and stay friendly with the others around the table. Many games require us to strategize, to read others’ nonverbal cues, and to learn from our own errors. Regular game nights give kids practice in these essential skills and provide immediate feedback about what works and what doesn’t.
  • Games teach good sportsmanship. Kids aren’t born good sports. They tend to gloat when they win and whine when they lose. Most kids try out cheating at least once. Games provide opportunities for kids to learn that honest winning feels better and makes better relationships than cheating. They provide a forum for teaching children how to be gracious winners and good losers.
  • Playing together fosters family communication. As kids get older, the in-between times become the times when the most important conversations occur. Kids are more likely to share their thoughts and feelings when they are doing something else. The times between turns, between hands of cards, between games are fertile ground for casual sharing of sometimes not-so-casual information.
  • It creates positive memories. Families that can have fun together on a regular basis create an emotional “bank” of good memories and positive feelings that can be drawn on when times are hard or when family members are apart.

It’s recommended that you set a regular day and time — whether that’s every week or every other week. Be sure to shut off the TV and ban cellphones and other devices from the room.

And choose games that are suitable for everyone in the group. Need help with that? New York Magazine came up with a list of the 11 Best Family Board Games, according to enthusiastic Amazon reviews. Click the links for prices and reviews.

(BONUS: Here come some brilliant gift ideas for Santa!)