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How Can I Teach My Child Life Skills in a Fun Way?

By Karin Luk, LGSW

Teaching children can be tricky. You know there are so many things you want your child to know like the importance of listening or being patient with others but HOW to teach these skills is a struggle. Play is an important part of every child’s development and it happens to be an effective, natural way to teach important life skills. Through play a child gets the chance to develop problem-solving skills, practice communication, learn about actions and consequences and so much more. Play can help grow a child’s body and mind. As a parent, play can also help you connect with your child and learn more about them as they learn about you too. It also doesn’t hurt that play doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, doesn’t have to take a lot of time, and most of all it’s fun so you’re not likely to get many complaints. 

Whether your child is a fan of the classic playground games or prefers tabletop games, there are many opportunities to connect with your child while sneaking in some of those life lessons. Here are some of my favorite games to play with children.  

Board Games

Checkers/Chess though it may take a bit of teaching initially, these sorts of strategy games are a great way for children to learn how to make plans, respond to unexpected situations, and deal with losses.  As your child learns the rules and gets better at playing it also gives you a great chance to see how your child thinks about problems and how comfortable they are with taking risks. 

Multiplayer board games like Sorry, Trouble, Candy Land, or Clue game naturally teaches children how to take turns with others and be patient while they wait. It also gives a child the chance to learn how to deal with “unfair” situations when they are forced into a disadvantage, or find themselves losing. 

Telephone

Telephone is best played with a group of children either in a line or arranged in a circle. The starting player is given a message to whisper to the person next to them. The message continues until it reaches back to the starting player. As you can already guess, the message has probably changed a few times. “Nellie eats pizza on a blue plate” may have turned into “Belly feet in a duvet.” Telephone challenges children as both a listener and a communicator to really pay attention to what others are saying. 

Simon Says

The rules are simple, one person is Simon and all other players must do exactly as Simon Says. Easy right? In order to play the game correctly and to stand the best chance of winning, a child needs to hone their listening and concentration skills in order to quickly pick up important information about what they need to do when they do it. During play children also learn the importance of impulse control. In order to win, players can’t just react to any direction right away, they need to wait until they hear “Simon says.” 

Hide-and-seek

This classic game where the person who is the Finder must go around trying to find the other players who are hiding. As both Finder and Hider, a child will begin to try and see from someone else’s perspective: “If I were Shawn, where would I hide?” Players are also developing their planning skills. The Finder has to organize their search “I’ll start looking outside first because there are more places to hide there,” while the hiders have to quickly figure out their own approach “I can’t hide here because there’s not enough space for me.” Hide-and-seek is also great for encouraging children to be aware of their bodies “I have to stay still and quiet or else they’ll find me.” 

I Spy

A simple game that a child of any age can play. I Spy encourages a child to use their powers of observation and focus to use the clues they have and pick up on the necessary details so they can find what they’re being asked to see. The child also starts learning how to control what they communicate to others because they don’t want to make the game too easy for others. 

Scavenger Hunt – Feelings Edition

While the typical scavenger hunt may ask you and your child to go around finding different plants, animals, or colors there are many ways to keep things interesting. For example, you could do a scavenger hunt for feelings. Make a list of different feelings to look out for as you and your child go to the park, grocery store, or even while watching a movie. As your child is looking around at people, they are learning to read facial expressions and picking up on other clues like body language and speech to try and guess someone else’s mood.

Parenting can be challenging, if you are looking for additional support for yourself or your child it might be helpful to talk to one of our counselors at Symmetry. Visit us online to explore our counseling services, and contact Symmetry Counseling today by calling (312)578-9990 to get matched with one of our therapists today.

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