Family games that won't cause eye rolls from your teens

"Sure Mom, I'd love to play tag," your teen says sarcastically. Playing games can unite families and promote fun and sportsmanship, but which ones work for hard-to-please teens?

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  • If you’re a parent of teenagers, choosing a game for the whole family to enjoy can be a bit risky. Gathering the clan for a round of Red Rover may not entice your hard-to-please teen.

  • When the whole family participates and you’re trying to accommodate older and younger kids, try placing them in teams. It may also help to choose games that will engage the older ones and showcase their talents. If your daughter is a swimmer or diver, take your family to the pool for some water competition. Maybe your son’s strength lies in language and vocabulary; challenge him to a fun word game. Teens often enjoy flaunting their talents and feeding their parents some humble pie as they show off their skills.

  • Sometimes the challenge with teens and family games lies in siblings’ competitive natures. At our house, a game of basketball on the driveway can quickly turn into an exhibition of squabbling and finger pointing as tempers flare; some of my kids think we need to implement NBA regulations. Neighbors may stare, but my husband and I just grimace as we referee and try to squash the fighting. When the game ends and we can slink back inside, we talk to our kids about good sportsmanship. Maybe basketball doesn’t promote family harmony at this stage of our kids’ lives, but at least we’re trying.

  • There are myriads of games out there for families to enjoy. My teenagers and my teen nieces and nephews mention the following games as ones they most like to play with their families.

  • Inside games

    • Board games that require strategy (Rummikub, Risk, Settlers of Catan)

    • Card games (SKIP-BO, Phase 10, Uno)

    • Charades

    • Board games that make you laugh (Pictionary, Apples to Apples, Taboo)

    • Mafia
    • Murder in the Dark
    • Karaoke

    • Jenga

    • Bowling

    • Chinese checkers

    • Hot and Cold

    • Don’t Eat Pete
    • Hide-and-seek

    • Dance video games (Just Dance)

  • Outside games

    • Soccer

    • Kickball

    • Water kickball (bases are water-filled, plastic kiddie pools)

    • Kick the Can
    • Pickle
    • Scavenger hunts

    • Baseball or softball

    • Football

    • Frisbee

    • Basketball

    • Golf or miniature golf

    • Tennis

    • Volleyball

    • Badminton

    • Bocce

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  • Families can play holiday-oriented games, too. During Halloween, divide into teams for a mummy wrap. Race to see which team can wrap their designated “mummy” from head to toe in toilet paper the fastest. For Easter, color eggs together and hold a traditional egg hunt for your kids. During the Christmas season, have a family white elephant gift exchange.

  • Games are a great excuse to have some fun together as a family. They may not show it, but teens often delight in spending time with you and playing with you — or against you. Games also provide parents the opportunity to teach about sportsmanship. Cheating isn’t cool and it usually ruins the game. Help your kids understand that it’s OK to lose once in awhile; teach them to congratulate the winner. And winning is always a confidence booster. Show your kids how much you love spending time with them, and go play!

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Megan Gladwell, a freelance writer and sometimes teacher, lives in beautiful Northern California with her husband and four children.

Website: http://www.bookclub41.blogspot.com

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