One of my favourite things to do with my kids is play games. I grew up playing a lot of card games and board games at family gatherings, and loved the time spent together. So I was happy to see that my children are developing a love for games too. They’re a great opportunity to put everything aside and just focus on being with each other, something that can be tough in today’s fast paced world.
Not only are they tons of fun, but they also help with development! Three areas of development they help are emotional, social, and cognitive.
Nobody likes to loose at a game and when a child does, they often get quite upset. Which is understandable! However, how they handle those emotions is important. Games offer us an opportunity to teach our children how to appropriately handle the emotions that come with loosing a game. It’s important that we validate how they feel, before we teach them appropriate methods for handling their emotions. “I see that you’re sad because you didn’t win. It’s alright to be sad. Your screaming is hurting my ears, could we have a hug instead?” We can teach our children that winning isn’t everything, and to enjoy the game regardless if we win or loose. They also allow us to teach them to celebrate with those that win, even if it meant that we lost.
Games involve a lot of turn taking, which is actually an important social skill for children to learn. Turn taking is another form of sharing, and games are perfect teaching moments for turn taking. At first it can often be difficult for children to understand, but after consistent teaching they’ll be pros! They also learn the concept of waiting, as they often need to wait for their turn to play again. Waiting is an important skill for children to have as there are times that we are unable to help them right when they ask, sometimes we may be busy with other children, housework, or any other responsibilities that we may have.
Games are also excellent for developing many subcategories in cognitive development. They work on math skills as children count spaces to move, or count cards to pick up. They also work on colour recognition as they move to the right squares, as in Candyland. Children are quick to develop strategies once they’ve figured out the rules of the game, and see how others play. These strategies help children develop numerous synapses in their brains as they make choices, decisions, and evaluations about how they think of the best way to win. They learn trial and error, as they discover that maybe that strategy didn’t work as well.
So what are you waiting for? Get playing!