Now my two boys as soon as I say we are having a game night will cheer, but when I then say we are playing board games and not Xbox my house is filled with groans and miserable faces! But despite their initial disapproval they do get into it. Now over the years playing games with my kids I have seen my fair share of flipped game boards, bad losers and terrible winners. While every game we play does not go smoothly, I do think I have an idea of how to make playing board games fun with the kids without anyone going crazy!
Pick The Right Game
This one may seem like common sense, but if you ask me a game that is aimed towards kids should be designed so that the kids have a genuine chance of winning the game without their parents have to let them win. There is no point in trying to get say a five year old to play Monopoly for example. Make sure that the game you pick looks fun, does not take an age to set up and that they can actually win while playing it. I am not saying winning is everything, but they will have a lot more fun if they really think they have a chance of winning the game. Also look for some games that allow your kids to work together. My kids when playing a game are usually mortal enemies, but put them against mom and dad and they soon are willing to work together.
Make The Game Fair
I know that some parents are dead against letting their kids win at games. I can kind of see both sides of this argument, but there is nothing wrong with giving the younger more experienced players a slight handicap so that the game is being played on a level playing field. For example we had this WWE wrestling board game which was brutal by the way, but the kids loved it. But the game was slightly too advanced for my youngest son. So I explained it to my eldest that we would have to give his younger brother a chance. So we would let him start a little bit ahead of us. This kept him interested in the game, but at the same time did not seem like an unfair advantage in the eyes of my eldest. It can be very hard to fine tune what kids see as fair, but for the most part the elder one I find is willing to give his or her younger sibling a sporting chance.
Be A Good Sport
As I said in my intro, I have been witness to some pretty first class freak outs when it comes to playing board games with my kids. Try to be a best sport and do things like congratulate the winner, but at the same time praise the loser and tell them that they might win the next game. Also try to stop the winning child from gloating. I know firsthand how tough this can be. Set the example yourself by thanking the kids for playing and telling them that you had fun even if you lost.