Pre-screen games. To be sure the games you play are appropriate for everyone in your family, make a “menu” of choices for game night. For younger children, you could lay out a small selection of acceptable choices, keeping games for older children (or games that tend to cause arguments) tucked out of sight.
Let the kids choose. Give each child a chance to choose from the game menu. You can rotate picking duties throughout the night or week to week. Whichever you choose, keep a clear list of whose turn it is to pick, and post it where everyone can see—it will help head off jealousy and set a good example of fair play. (Get a grown-up into the rotation if you want some say, too!)
Set a time limit. Announce it at the beginning of the night, give a 10-minute warning or “last game” call shortly before the end time and stick to your deadline. Having a clear-cut play period helps ensure that game night ends on a happy note, while kids are still engaged and before they are overtired or bored.
Stay positive. Even if you don’t like a particular game, grin and bear it if you expect your children to do the same!
Be a team player. If your child acts like a sore loser (or sore winner) after a game, change the pace with a cooperative game. Working together toward a common goal (such as collecting something before the timer runs out) refocuses attention on being together and having fun, rather than beating other players at a game.
Say “Good night” to game night! Transition to bedtime with something enjoyable but relaxing, such as a special book that’s just for game night, or a made-up story with characters or events from the games you’ve just played.
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