How not to play games with kids

I’ll never forget it. I went around to a friend’s place who had two boys aged seven and nine and they were playing a bit of backyard cricket. My mate was batting when I arrived and as I walked up the driveway he hit the seven year old for a backyard six. As the boys were trying to find the ball, my mate come up to me, chest all puffed up. He started telling me a few backyard cricket stories. I couldn’t believe it when he turned to me and said with pride ‘I scored a century the other day’ like he had won the World Cup with the Black Caps. I thought he was joking - but sadly he wasn’t.

With this in mind I thought I’d share some quick tips for making game play fun for kids over the summer months.

Tip 1. Making games competitive is good but you aren’t trying to dominate your kids. Kids will lose interest if you are trying to show them how great you are. You want to make the game close and give them an opportunity to win. It’s ok for them to lose but you want to make sure they have a chance right up to the end. Remember it’s about them, not you.

Tip 2. Praise them for what they are doing well when they are playing. Praise is a great way to help kids grow but to make it more effective try to be specific with what you say. Instead of saying ‘you’re doing great’, say ‘its great how you hold the ball up over your head when you make a shot’. This way you are subconsciously getting them to focus on how to improve.

Tip 3. Set out all the rules and conditions beforehand. There is nothing worse than a fight because it’s unclear what the rules are. Get the kids involved in creating the rules and try to let them create some creative rules that will make the games more fun and they will have more ownership in the game.

Tip 4. Make it fun! Put on their favorite music, be silly and feed them lots of energy when you play.

Over the next few months the sun is out and the days are long. Summer is a great time to have active fun with your kids. Remember that your role is to help them have fun with exercise and you’ll be creating some cool memories with the young people in your life.  

Bevan Eyles