Have you ever wondered how to play games with kids who fight all the time? Or, how to remove the sibling rivalry from your family game night? Or, how to enjoy playing board games when your children argue all the time?
Well, if so, you aren’t alone.
Of all the game-related questions I am asked, this topic is the most popular.
- How can you play games with three kids?
- Don’t they fight?
- Do they ever argue?
- How do you get your kids to play games without fighting?
Do you want to know my answer?
My kids fight all the time, just like yours.
How to Play Games With Kids Who Kids Fight Nonstop… and Still Have Fun
Siblings fight. I wish they didn’t, but they do. It’s part of life, it’s part of parenting, and it can be downright maddening some days.
Add a game to the mix? You’re destined for siblings squabbles and game board flipping… at least, at first.
Playing board games with kids who fight nonstop
Yes, we play games daily. Yes, I love to play games with my children. Yes, my children love to play games with each other.
We are not immune to sibling squabbles and board flipping.
In fact, one afternoon we were having a wonderful time playing Sorry. The power had just gone out and I love to play a board game during a power outage.
We were having one of those magic moments, the stars were aligned, and everyone was happy.
I took a photo, and I posted it on Instagram:
Not five minutes later, one child who shall remain nameless flipped the whole dang board.
This is the reality of Instagram, you guys. Don’t believe anything you see there. It’s a snapshot of a split second… and it’s on mute.
There is a myriad of things that siblings will argue about while playing games:
- Which game to play
- Pawn color
- Who goes first
- Who cheated
- Who said what
- More cheating
- Who is bragging
- Who is losing
- Turn skipping
- Even more cheating
- Getting sent back to home
- Who is looking at who funny
When it comes to playing – and enjoying – board games with children, think Big Picture, not perfection
I wish I had a magical solution for you, but I don’t. There are some strategies you can try that will help.
Here are some strategies that have helped in our home:
- State rules clearly and succinctly
- Emphasizing the importance of play and fun over winning
- Consider playing cooperative games
- Encouraging children to cheer each other on
- Taking turns choosing games
- Using visual timers (“We will play Jimmy’s game for fifteen minutes and then we will play Sally’s”)
- A sense of humor
- And lots and lots of practice with games
Your kids are learning so much while they bicker, debate rules, and accuse one another of cheating
Children practice a host of important skills while playing games. Here’s just a snippet:
- How to take turns
- How to follow rules
- How to lose with grace
- How to win with grace (this is so important, too!)
- How to cooperate
- Communication skills
- How to handle frustration
Plus, when you play a game, you are creating memories. You are building relationships and forming connections.
Lately, whenever I play games with my children, I think of the day that Kara and I had Julie Bogart on our podcast. The entire episode was an amazing experience and one that I encourage you to listen to, but I will remember one line for the rest of my life:
“Don’t forget that what you’re creating now is what they will remember and enjoy talking about then.”
~ Julie Bogart, Brave Writer
This is so important to remember, especially when you find yourself in the middle of board flipping and hurt feelings. You are creating something bigger, something more important.
You are building your family culture.
I try to make our game time fun for everyone in order to create memorable family moments. Here are some super-simple ideas:
- Have a delicious snack while you play
- Add a tea party
- Play by the fire, or outdoors, or on a picnic blanket
- Play in a pop-up tent or blanket fort
- Play with music in the background
- Dim the lights, use flameless candles
And, do you know what I always do when we are finished playing? Even if it was a terrible horrible no good very bad family game time?
I thank them.
This may seem trivial, but I promise you it helps. If your children know that you value playing with them, they are going to want to do it more.
What has helped me to enjoy games with my kids, even when they are fighting like cats and dogs, is to keep my eye on the prize?
To think Big Picture, not perfection.
Because, let’s face it… it’s never going to be perfect… but it can be better and I promise you that it can also be fun.
Do you love board games, too?
Check out these related posts:
- How to Choose the Perfect Game
- Building Your Game Closet on a Budget
- Game Closet Organization
- Finding Time to Play
- 10 Tips for a Successful Family Game Night
- Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling with Games
- How to Grow Gamers Using Amazing Gateway Games
- Gameschooling: Learning Through Play
- 100 Games and Picture Books for Play-Based Learning
- Gameschool Resources
Do you love Gameschooling?
I rely heavily on educational games in our homeschool. Read more here:
Now, it’s your turn. Tell me: How do you enjoy playing board games as a family with kids who fight and argue all the time? Share here!
Cait co-hosts The Homeschool Sisters Podcast and is co-founder of Raising Poppies, a community for parents of gifted and twice-exceptional children. Cait is also founder of the Family Book Club at My Little Poppies, a fantastic community of book-loving parents and the Gameschool Community at My Little Poppies, a vibrant community of gameschoolers.
Cait is a contributing writer for Simple Homeschool and GeekMom. Her work has also appeared on The Huffington Post, The Mighty, and Scary Mommy. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram
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