Six Surprising Life Lessons My Kid Learned From A Board Game

Cleaning out the hall closet the other day I came across a stack of old board games covered with dust and completely untouched for fourteen years; Monopoly, Batman Begins: Shadow Assault and Pokeman SORRY.

Two were clearly well over my almost six-year-old’s head but I was positive his recent interest (and my discouragement) in Pokeman Go would mean he would love playing this unique version of the classic game, SORRY. 

I didn’t show it to him until I had the time to sit right down and play. I thought this would avoid the inevitable begging I was sure I would endure otherwise. Judging by his immediate interest, I could see I was right.

Since his previous experience with games was limited to a few digital kid’s apps downloaded to my phone to keep him happy during long line waits or car drives, I figured he might encounter a slight learning curve.

I carefully explained the rules and showed him how to count each space on the board according to the number he drew from the card stack. He immediately informed me he HAD to be YELLOW “because of Pikachu” and that was also the reason he HAD to GO FIRST!

Just like I thought, the game was a huge hit. I watched his eyes light up as each of his pieces got “out” of their starting places and he began moving them around the board. His delight at sending my pieces back to their starting places with a triumphant exclamation of “SORRY!” was a little too extreme, as were the big tears he couldn’t hold back when I drew the SORRY Card sending his pieces back.

This behavior escalated until our game playing came to a sudden stop.

Forty five minutes later, after a lengthy attempt to explain — in five year old terms — why there was no reason to get upset because the nature of the game is “sometimes you lose and sometimes you win” — he promptly beat me and immediately asked to play again. 

Which we did.

Several things became clear about my little gamer’s skills.

  1. He had no idea how to take turns.
  2. His sense of “fair play” was still developing.
  3. He completely lost it when it looked like he was going to lose.
  4. A latent and possibly wicked sense of competitiveness was appearing.

But more important was the reminder of what a great a learning tool this random little activity actually was (even if completely unpremeditated on my part.)

While sitting at the table showing my kid how to navigate the game I was transported back to the days of my own childhood (when television was much less of a priority and computers and video games didn’t yet exist) where I LOVED playing board games with my family, and begged to do so as often as possible.

At the time, I didn’t realize I was learning about strategizing, calculating, problem solving and even math and spelling concepts; but I was.

And now, so was he.

In fact, playing board games teaches kids six essential life skills.

  1. How to follow rules – In order to play a game, kids must understand rules. Moving game pieces, turning cards, rolling dice, etc. teach them how to move towards the goal of finishing the game. 
  2. Cooperation – Games teach kids they must work together in order to play. This can easily be modeled by partnering an older child or adult with a younger child who is just learning.
  3. Taking Turns – Born impatient, games are a great way to teach kids how to wait while being rewarded with a fun time.  (Great experience for a lifetime of future waiting guaranteed to NOT be fun.)
  4. Fair Play – As they learn about rules and activities, kids learn about honesty and integrity in respect to playing fair.  This also helps them understand the appropriate social behavior that revolves around winning and losing.
  5. Actions and Consequences-Board games teach visual and tactile opportunities so kids understand the concepts of cause and effect. They learn such things as “when I put that piece there it causes other pieces to fall,” or “when I draw a card or roll a dice I can move through the game.”
  6. The Value of Undivided Attention – The time I spent playing games with my family — especially my parents — remains among my fondest memories. 

Because more often than we realize, to a child–

LOVE is spelled T-I-M-E.


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About The Author


Lover of reading, writing, sparkly things and whatever purrs, barks or flies. Former helicopter mom, co-dependent and enabler, I am addicted to walking, my family and my iWatch. Teacher by day and writer by night, I am clearly the one learning the most. Keeping it up until I get it right. Choosing joy one day at a time and sharing my journey so others can see why it might not be found if we don’t look for it. Thanks for stopping by!


  1. Lynne Gassel | 18th Sep 16

    “Board Game Lessons” -a PERFECT lesson! Thank you for this reminder.

  2. Zinga Hart | 18th Sep 16

    It’s amazing how it is the interactive moments that truly stretch our growth!

  3. Terri | 19th Sep 16

    My son is no where near playing board games- only a few months old. But its good to know that lessons truly can be found in games.
    Terri recently posted…How to Pay Debt, Cut Back & Save Without Losing Your Soul (+Giveaway)My Profile

    • Laura | 20th Sep 16

      I agree! So much kid’s entertainment today is a waste of time in my opinion.

  4. Eric || The Bucket List Project | 2nd Mar 17

    Great post, I also think board games open up the imagination to dream of different scenarios of life. Not to mention they help in developing Math, strategy, and in some games linguistic/vocab skills.
    Eric || The Bucket List Project recently posted…Win a Visit Cuba Coloring BookMy Profile

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