From Family Circle
We all know that as kids get older, it's harder to connect with them. They're busy, they have a close personal relationship with their phone and computer, and friends trump Mom and Dad. But try to set aside time at least once a week to spend a little time together—even if it means lots of eye-rolls from your too-bored-to-breathe teenager. The key to making this work is making it fun—and yes, we're talking game night. Here's how to kick it off.
Put kids in charge.
Inviting your children to choose or create games for your family game night gives them a sense of control, something they may not experience in the rest of their lives. Allowing them to take turns picking the game of the night ramps up their excitement level and eagerness to participate in family time.
Use those teachable moments.
Games are a great way to teach your kids important life skills like patience, taking turns and good sportsmanship, says Julie H., who launched her own family game night several years ago. She now plays games with her kids after dinner at least two or three nights a week. "I can't imagine not booking in time for games—it's just as important as homework for my older child," she says.
If you're tired of watching your kids play with their video, computer or Internet games while ignoring you, jump in. The most fun games for groups are often available on motion-based consoles, which help get everyone up and moving. Boxing, bowling, tennis and soccer are all fun games to try your hand at against the kids. And most kids will get a kick out of being able to teach their parents a thing or two about how the game is played (and will enjoy laughing at your efforts).
Travel back in time.
Reaching deep into the toy cabinet for old-fashioned toys like building blocks or clay might just bring out the silliness in even the most jaded tween. Older children might enjoy challenging themselves to build or mold something far more complicated than when they last played with these toys—and once you've all had time to create a masterpiece, you can vote for the best.
Go for the classics.
Games like charades are a huge hit with families, in particular because many parents love games that require no dice, no video console, no elaborate instructions—just some scraps of paper for guesses and a bowl to put them in.
Make a date.
The very act of establishing a regular family game night ritual—this could be once a week or once a month depending on your schedule—is a gift you can give your kids. What you're doing is offering your family members a predictable time when you're definitely going to be together. It often helps kids to know that there are dependable times to look forward to that are rooted in togetherness, celebration and fun within the family.
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