Family Game Night Basics

Family game nights can be so much fun! As parents, we range in our levels of competitiveness from competition avoiders to the WWE battle royal types! At either end of the spectrum, kids will not enjoy playing boardgames with you. With a little prep work and thinking it through, you can leverage game nights for great moments of family bonding. We have a few tips to help you in your effort to establish a game night.

Hacks for Playing Board Games with Kids

Pick and choose rules. Remember that the point of playing games is to have fun! If the game is not complex or challenging for your kids, then change the rules so everyone can have fun. Avoid the mentality that loosing at boards games builds character. It does… but it isn’t helpful when you want to introduce boardgames and have fun as a family)!

Make it cooperative. Winning is more fun when you can do it together, and loosing doesn’t sting as bad when you loose together. Kids have more fun when they are not isolated so try playing games cooperatively. If you have enough people in your family you could even play in teams.

Eliminate player elimination. Many games require some tactical or strategic skill (even the most simple games). It is very easy for a child to make a mistake be eliminated from a game. Try to avoid eliminations. Try having kids start over rather than be eliminated.

Introducing Board Games to Younger Kids

1. Introduce the game board and pieces. Start by letting your kids have some time to free play with the game board and pieces. They’re going to want to anyway!

2. Practice moving the game pieces. Focus the free play to actions and movement they will be doing during the game.

3. Share what each game piece does. Now you begin to share with you kids what each game piece or sections of the board does.

4. Practice playing the game elements. Take portions of the game play and try them out (example: sliding down a shoot or climbing a ladder in “Shoots and Ladders”).

5. Share the game objective(s) and rules. Start putting it all together by sharing the objectives of the game.

6. Give it a practice try. Try a short practice round of the game. Keep it low pressure and full of fun. If you are running into frustration because your kids still cannot understand the game, adjust the game so they can play.


Have fun. That’s the whole point right?!?

Keep it light. Stressful is the opposite of fun.

Lower your expectations. Remember that you are playing board games for your kids!