We all know about how “5 a day” can keep our kid’s bodies healthy but recently there’s been a lot of talk about children’s mental health and the additional stresses in their lives.
As parents we all want to protect our children and try to keep their minds healthy as well as their bodies so here are 5 reasons that playing board games with your children can help their mental health:-
1.Improves family cohesion
Children love spending time with parents & siblings and playing a board game allows for some valuable face to face family time. Often when families are physically together they’re not engaging – they may be watching TV or using mobile phones or laptops – but when they’re playing a game everyone is engaged together. This helps build emotional bonds within families, improves communication and relieves stress. If playing can be built into a routine such as a family game after dinner it’s even better for family cohesion.
2. Improves Social and Cognitive Skills
Playing board games can really help develop a child’s social skills. Players learn to follow rules, communicate verbally, take turns, wait, experience winning and losing and learn how to deal with both. These are all valuable life skills that help children at school both in the classroom and the playground. Playing certain board games can also be educational and improve cognitive skills such as maths, logic, strategy, memory etc. If a child continues to play these sorts of games their confidence in these areas increases leading to better self-esteem and better mental health.
3. Offers Life Experiences
Playing board games can offer subtle meta-messages and life skills – a player could be losing one minute but a roll of the dice may see them back in the lead – their luck can change in an instant plus they realise that being behind wasn’t the end of the world. This can be translated into their everyday life – when they have a problem or something makes them feel despondent, if they stick with it and don’t give up, things turn around. Having a positive attitude toward life makes for a happier person and one that other people want to spend time with.
4. Reduces Stress
When you play a board game you generally have to concentrate on the game itself – you may be calculating dice, making decisions about where to move next or creating the longest words but whatever the task, during a game your mind is taken away from your day to day pressures – even if it’s just for half an hour. Breaking the pattern of stress, having some fun and taking your mind off your internal problems can really help children to relax. Also if you are playing a competitive fun family game there will generally be plenty of laughter (& maybe a few tears). Social laughter has been proven to release endorphins which in turn have pleasurable and calming effects making people generally feel better and promoting feelings of togetherness.
5. Reduces Isolation
Children love technology and whilst it is an amazing tool it can also be isolating. Children often use their technology whilst they are alone or even if they are in the same physicality as others they can often feel alone. Plus many forms of social media whilst suggesting they are “social” can actually be isolating for many children. Board games are designed for groups of players to interact with each other. Regularly playing board games can ensure that children don’t feel isolated which has been recognised as a contributor to worsening mental health.