December 22, 2021 3 min read

Game-changing Ideas for a Winning Game Night

Family game nights are a fun way to build bonds and build developmental skills too. However, when playing with young kids that are
eager to win, it's important not to leave the night up to chance. That’s why we came up with a solid game plan to help you champion

any game night. (High five!)

6 fun ways to start off game night right

1. Have the kids pick a game they like
2. Keep a small list of games in the rotation to practice the rules
3. Offer games at a level the youngest player can participate in
4. Team up kids with adults
5. Switch team members each time you play
6. Offer fun (and unmessy) snacks while you play, like plain popcorn, jelly beans, or baby carrots

Taking the edge off when kids have a competitive spirit

First off, it's super important to acknowledge that being competitive is natural!

Take a step back and think about a time that you genuinely wanted to lose. Never, right?
It's ok to tell kids that wanting to win is a natural feeling. This helps them understand that YOU understand how they’re feeling. These emotions are very real and they shouldn’t be dismissed.

Teaching control during a competition

Family game nights are a fun way to spark kids’ strategy skills–but sometimes (just sometimes) we know parents may need a side strategy to help highly-competitive players control their own game. (Breathe!)


6 things to say for positive play

1. Everybody wants to win so I get how you feel
2. I hear you buddy, do you want to replay and try again
3. It’s ok to feel sad that you lost, but not everyone can win every time
4. The most important thing is that you tried your best and that you have fun
5. Is there something you would do differently next time? (Learning from mistakes is a stepping stone for winning)
6. Don’t give up. Practice makes perfect. Keep trying and you may get it next time

How to help competitive kids cool down when they lose their cool

Most kids want to win simply to get praise and acceptance. If you notice that your little opponents are big on cheating, being unkind, rubbing it in, or are starting to show signs of a tantrum, it's important to call out this behaviour.


6 ways to guide kids to play nice

When negative behaviour appears, keep these handy tips near:
1. Say it’s ok to want to win, but it’s not ok to be untruthful or mean
2. Breathe and count to 10 and teach them other calming techniques
3. Take a break from the game if necessary
4. Tell them what they need to do to show positive behaviour
5. Reinforce that playing is meant to be fun for everyone
6. Cheer "good try" often or when it doesn't work out & compliment good behaviour

A wise coach once said, "you can lose or you can learn!"

As tempting as it may be to let kids win every time (wink wink), there’s more value in learning how to deal with losing. Playing family games is an amazing opportunity to teach children and teens how to lose (or win) with grace and learn from each experience. This can carry over in all aspects of their lives as they grow, in sports, with jobs, or any time they want to succeed.


Keep the vibe fun for everyone

1. Model good sportsmanship
2. Focus on the positive plays
3. Explain that winning or losing may have to do with chance
4. Show breathing & calming techniques to players not winning
5. Remind kids that it’s not nice to brag about winning
6. Encourage kindness and congratulate the winner
7. Tell each other how fun it is to play together
8. Teach kids about the power of “yet” and how practice makes perfect

Written by Cathy Barbarossa, Senior Copywriter and Editorial Manager


Cathy Barbarossa
Cathy Barbarossa

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