One of the things we find as child therapists who provide play therapy services is that it can be very helpful to encourage parents to implement the ritual of having family play time every week in a way that is predictable and engaging. One of the best ways to do this is to designate one night each week as game night for family fun.
I have some tips and resources for you to create a regular game night for your family so that your child will have an opportunity to look forward to this playful time of family bonding and interaction.
Game Night for Family Fun Ideas
- Designate one night that can be observed for game night for your family. Choose a night when there will be no other obligations or distractions and one you can adhere to predictably. Children thrive on predictability and will grow to treasure the memories made by observing a consistent game night every week for family fun.
- Organize a collection of age appropriate board games as well as some interactive games such as Pictionary or Charades. Store them on a cart or in a cabinet that is accessed on game night so these games are special for the ritual of coming together as a family once each week.
- Turn off all electronic devices during game night so there will be no temptation to answer a text, a phone call or be distracted by the beeps and buzzes of devices. Nothing spoils the connection time of game night like an electronic device pulling parents away. Children notice when their parents are focusing on their electronics instead of the fun family time and it can be a real downer for kids, spoiling the special time together.
- Couple game night with a fun and special dinner option such as pizza, tacos or maybe ice cream sundaes. This one night of the week might be the one special night where kids and parents get to skip the veggies and just eat something fun and yummy together.
- Games like Sorry, CandyLand, Chutes and Ladders require taking turns as well as forward progress and back-slides which can offer opportunity for parents to model how to deal with disappointment and how to be a good sport when winning.
- Set a timer that will let the family know when it’s time to wind down game night and get ready for bed. This way, parents don’t have to be the ones ending the fun. The timer is simply part of the event and you might even let your child set the timer at the beginning of the evening time together.
- Watch out for your own competitive nature. A little fun and health competition can be part of playing games together but sometimes adults can get carried away. Remember the point of playing games together is to be together and to have fun while connecting in memorable ways with your child.
Creating rituals that are consistent and fun are powerful ways for families to provide children with opportunities to connect and bond while making lasting memories that shape a child’s sense of belonging.