Did you know that healthy interactions between parents and children decrease the probability of violence in the future? One of the best ways to work on communication, conflict resolution, and stress management skills within parent/child or sibling relationships is through engaging in activities together – board games, arts & crafts, exercise, movie nights, and more!
My name is Kelly Hampton, Outreach Coordinator and Prevention Specialist with YWCA Greater Lafayette’s Domestic Violence Intervention and Prevention Program. My goals are to prevent violence from happening in our community, to teach young folks how to establish and maintain safe and healthy relationships and boundaries, and to spread awareness about domestic violence and the services YWCA Greater Lafayette offers survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Typically, you will find me presenting Healthy Relationships curriculum out in the community, but research shows that primary prevention really starts within the home. How we interact with our children will set the standard for the interactions they have in the future.
You can learn more about primary prevention here.
We all know how tricky it can be to get the whole family to agree on one game to play together. In our house, we use the “5-3-1” method. We usually let the pickiest member of the family choose 5 games for the rest of us to choose from, then select another person to pick 3 of those games, and the final person selects the winning game. We also draw straws and the person with the longest straw gets to pick the game. It really depends on the overall mood of the family. Find what works for you!
I recommend having snacks ready as an incentive for playing! Combining healthy snacks with a few not-so-healthy snacks is a good way to get those difficult to engage kids to the table.
You know your kids best, so its important to keep your expectations at an appropriate level. If your kids struggle to stay focused, try to pick a game that doesn’t take much time. If you have a child who enjoys drawing, try something like family Pictionary (you can make your own clues or download printable clues here).
Game Night with Little Ones
Have little ones? Cooperative games can be a lot of fun and are an easy way to teach children how to work together toward a goal. My personal favorite is The Sneaky Snacky Squirrel! This game is easy to play and fun for the whole family. If you have children that are too young to play, invite them to be on your team.
Game Night with Older Kids
Are your children older? It might seem more challenging to get older kids to engage in Family Game Night. I get it, but it doesn’t mean it can’t happen. Sometimes, it’s easier to meet people where they are. Start up a MarioKart tournament! We have a running scoreboard in our home and I am consistently impressed by my 9 year old’s gaming skills. Take snacks, come up with a reward, ask for advice, and compliment your child. You could also ask them to teach you how to play a different game that they’re interested in, maybe Minecraft, Fortnite, Magic the Gathering, or others. Showing an interest in the things that make them happy is an easy and fun way to get your child to open up and have fun with you.
Get your kiddos talking with some open-ended conversation starters!
- What is your favorite part of this game? Why?
- What would your perfect family game night look like?
- What was the best part of your day? What was the worst part of your day?
- If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
- What is your favorite thing to do with you friends?
- What is something that you are looking forward to?
- If you could be any animal, what would you be?
- Would you rather…
- If you had a million dollars, what would you buy first?
- What is your biggest worry?
Relax and Have Fun!
Families with children may feel stressed during this time of forced togetherness and uncertainty, so it is more important than ever to model healthy relationship skills for your children. Take deep breaths, listen to your children, validate their thoughts and feelings, have fun, relax, and remember that safe and healthy relationship skills start with you.
Show us what “Family Game Night” looks like for your family!
We love to see families together and building healthy bonds. Post a photo of your family game night and tag us on Instagram or Facebook! Use the hashtag #ywcafamilygamenight and don’t forget to check back here for more fun Family Game Night ideas!