I think one of the best ways to teach kids lessons that they will never forget is when you make life your classroom and the kids are not even aware that class in in session. Years ago when we had just little kids running through the house we were challenged with this principle: Use life situations to teach the life values your children will need as adults. As much as we possibly can, we set aside one night out of the week as a family night. It is an awesome bonus to us as a family that we can have fun together - and to be following this advice of teaching our kids life values at the same time.
One avenue I have found very effective in teaching life lessons to our children is in playing games together. It is amazing how many things can be taught while you are engaged in a family game together. Sitting down as a family to play a game requires a little more effort (and sometimes a lot more patience) than say, just watching a movie together as a family. However, there are SO MANY more opportunities to teach values as we interact together playing a game than when we just sit on the couch watching a movie.
Here are some lessons that can be taught in almost every game night that we have as a family.
1. Putting others before yourself
It seems no matter what game you choose - this lesson can be taught over and over again. Whether you have two children who want to be the iron piece in Monopoly, or coaching the children how to figure out which person will go first in a mean game of UNO - opportunities abound for your children to see how they can treat someone the way they would want to be treated.
2. Good Sportsmanship
No one likes to loose; but in every game there is a looser. If your child is the winner of the game he/she can be guided on how to be a gracious winner. I don't think there is any child around who has not needed to be guided and helped through the emotions that come with loosing or coming in last. I can't think that every child would benefit from having a parent walk through the emotions they experience and help teach proper attitudes and actions that accompany disappointments.
3. Playing Fair
I'm sure all of us have come across adults in life that did not know how to 'play fair' in life. Whether it is learning to wait patiently in a line that is long at the grocery store, or steeping aside and letting someone go through a doorway first. As adults we are constantly needing to 'play fair' in life. I'm almost certain that no matter what game you choose to play with your kids you will find an opportunity to show and teach your children to be fair.
4. Being Honest
There is not a person alive who has not told a lie or been tempted to cheat. There is not a child alive that has not tried to turn the odds in their favor to win a game. Opportunities abound for us to confront our children's disposition to be dishonest or deceitful while engaged in playing games. Even if we do not see our children trying to cheat - there is dialogue that can take place while you are playing to elevate honesty and warn against the dangers the come with dishonesty.
Have you tried to play a simple card game with a four year old? I have; and it seemed every few seconds I was saying the same phrase, "No, not yet. It's not your turn." A four year old seems to think that it is his turn every time someone finishes their turn. It is so good for our children to learn to 'wait'. Waiting is a life skill that all adults are going to have to practice sometime in their 'grown-up' years. Games are a wonderful and fun way for children to learn to wait.
6. Deductive Reasoning
Games are wonderful ways for children to learn to process information and to learn to plan. Young children can learn from easy games like "Old Maid" where they have to figure out how they can get someone to pick the Old Maid from out of their hand. Older kids have various strategy games to choose from to help deductive reasoning skills. It has been said that reasoning is the last skill to develop in a child / teen. Engaging in a 'thinking game' with your teen is giving him/her opportunities to continue to build this invaluable skill that they will desperately need as an adult. Children need multiple ways for them to have to engage their brain and think. Playing various games is a way for them to have practice developing reasoning skills and not even realize how much their brains are working.
If you pass by our house on a designated 'Family Night', you might here Zak screaming "UNO" or hear us laughing with the older kids as they try to get us to guess the category in a game of Guestures. Hopefully, there will be so much more happening then just what can be heard from an open window. We will play and have fun; and hope that when we tuck the kids into bed (just a little later than normal because it *is* family night!) that our children will have been given yet another opportunity to be exposed to values that will shape their lives.
What are your family's favorite games to play together?
I trust you have a wonderful weekend. Thanks so much for stopping by. I'm so glad you did.