Board Games We Love for Kids and Families

Kimberly Lindgren, OTR/L - May 27, 2020

When I think back to playing board games in my childhood, I’m reminded of a lot feelings--the thrill of getting all my pieces in the ‘safe zone’ during Sorry!, tears over losing in Battleship, building up the courage to act something out during Charades, and practicing over and over again how to shuffle cards just like my grandpa taught me. 

Board games are so beneficial for not only educational skills--like strategy, memory, and ideation--but also for developing social and emotional regulation skills. Whether it’s patiently listening to the rules of a game, asking questions, or tolerating losing, it teaches problem solving, frustration tolerance, and boosts communication skills. What’s great about board games is that most of them are so structured, which supports emotional regulation. Rules are rules, and a kid has to sit with those feelings of frustration or sadness when they have to wait their turn or lose! With more practice experiencing these feelings, they will become easier to manage and won’t feel as big to the child compared to their first few times of losing.

Use board games as a way to ‘unplug’ and ease stress. It can be a great alternative to Friday Movie Nights. Get cozy with popcorn, snacks, or play inside a fort or tent to make it extra special! 

Concerned about managing big emotions during competitive games? Check out some of the collaborative games below that are designed for players to work as a team, rather than against each other. I’ve also included recommended games that are tried and true (for fun and learning purposes!) by families, occupational therapists, and speech therapists. 

I hope your family can build fond memories over board games and card games like I’m sure many of us have. You might be surprised by how much your child enjoys playing and spending the quality screen-free time with the family :)

Games for ages 18 months to 3 years old

Games for ages 3 & up

Games for ages 4 & up

Games for ages 5 & up

Games for ages 6 & up

Cooperative Games

Have fun!!