These family game night ideas, tips, and game suggestions will help make family game night with young kids a smooth and enjoyable tradition.
Having a peaceful and fun family game night can feel a bit unattainable, or Norman Rockwell, to the modern parent with young kids.
The following questions may pop into your head when you imagine family game night:
- How do you ensure the kids don’t fight about who goes first?
- How do we avoid crying over a loss?
- How do you maintain your sanity if your child wants to play Candy Land (again)?
Are you already feeling stressed out? Don't fret!
7 Family Game Night Ideas (and Game Suggestions)
Below are seven simple tips for ensuring your family game night is enjoyable:
1. Give Everyone a Say
Start your game night by having each family member choose one game for the evening. If your children are professional “I want to go first” kids, like mine, roll a dice to settle the argument. Highest roller picks the game.
You’d be surprised how often the winner of the dice roll picks another family member’s game. Children can be inherently kind. In our family, we let the team who wins the first game chose what to play next.
2. Make it Cooperative
Consider cooperative games if you have small children participating in your family game night. Collaborative games are designed to have your family work together as a team to prevail over a fictitious opponent. It is a perfect opportunity for a young child to experience winning as a group.
We highly recommend Richard Scarry's Busy Town for young gamers!
3. Play Teams
Does the thought of playing one-more-game of Candy Land make your head spin? Ignore the recommended age ratings on games. Collaborate!
Create adult-kid teams and play adult games instead. We’ve been ignoring age recommendations with games like Rummikub for years.
4. Ensure Your Kids REALLY Win
It is my personal opinion that you should not “let a child win.” Sooner or later they’re going to FEEL that you’re faking it and you’ll lose your child’s overall trust. That is not something to take lightly!
There are so many opportunities for children to experience truly winning, like playing cooperative and collaborative games. Playing a memory matching gave with your kids will ensure they win on their own.
I try, try, try to be a present parent. Yet my mind still occasionally wanders. My girls have been kicking my butt at Memory since they were, honestly, about three-years-old.
I highly recommend the Eeboo Matching Games. The quality of the matching cards is nice. Our game has lasted through a set of toddler years and still serves us well on coffee dates!
5. Have a Game Night Buffet
Have healthy snacks on hand. That is my number one parenting tip for any situation. Children behave better if they are well fed. On game night, our family creates a healthy buffet and grazes throughout the evening.
6. Start young
Start a monthly game night now, whether your child is two or twelve. There are entertaining family games available for kids of all ages. Make this family tradition a regular habit at the house so when your kids hit the teen years, “It’s just something you’ve always done.”
7. Create a Tradition
Setting a standard date, like the first Friday of each month, is an easy way to guarantee the event shows up on your family calendar.
Be realistic! Life has a tendency to … happen.
Pick a time frame you know you can stick to and you’ll ensure the kids won’t be disappointed with cancellations.
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