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Johnson County

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Johnson County
11811 S. Sunset Drive
Suite 1500
Olathe, KS 66061

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Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service

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Bonding with Board Games

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Let’s play a board game!

Board games have been around since early civilization. The first board game is estimated to have been developed around 5000BC. Can you guess what it was? Dice. Egyptians made game play a prestigious royal pastime in 3100 BC. Many think of backgammon as the first board game, but it was not developed until 1300 BC. Hopscotch is considered one of the first games designed for children around 500BC.

Modern board games — euro-style
Even though everyone seems to be glued to their smart phones these days, games are still popular. In fact, board games are a hot trend with the millennial generation. But the games have changed since we were young. One popular type of game is called a euro game. Euro games are a class of tabletop games that generally have indirect player interaction and abstract physical components. Euro-style games emphasize strategy while downplaying luck and conflict. This creates a positive environment for relationships to grow.

Board games can gather families and friends together, across generations, to connect, compete and have fun. Youth today often lack skills to build relationships with others, including their grandparents. Euro board games are an entertaining and clever way to develop relationship skills without resistance.

Unlike video games, board games promote face-to-face interaction. A key component to connecting with people is learning how to read body language and developing "social capital." Board games allow us to create a foundation for trust and long lasting relationships. Video games do not offer that chance for us to connect to others in person.

In the book Family Treasures: Creating Strong Families, author John De Frain discusses six qualities that strong, successful families around the world exhibit:

  • enjoyable time together;
  • appreciation and affection for each other;
  • positive communication;
  • spiritual well-being (values, beliefs, life skills);
  • successful management of stress and crisis; and
  • commitment to each other.

It is important for parents and grandparents to find a way to carve out time as a family. Each time we interact with one another it builds and strengthens that bond. Board games foster the face-to-face interaction needed to connect deeply with each other and to develop the other traits of strong families.

Playing euro games has helped my family to connect. The games lead to interesting conversations and help us build stronger relationships with one another. Family holidays and events are less stressful and are a time we look forward to being with one another.

The importance of play for children and adults
Play is crucial for a child's development and it is also beneficial for people of all ages. Play can add joy, relieve stress, supercharge learning, and connect you to others and the world around you. It can trigger the release of endorphins, the body's natural feel-good chemicals, which promote an overall sense of well-being and can temporarily relieve pain.

Older adults can benefit from many of the same concepts that children do when playing — stimulating the mind and boosting creativity, fostering relationships, including empathy, compassion, and trust with others, and strengthen social skills.

Play and laughter perform an essential role in building strong, healthy relationships by bringing people closer together, creating a positive bond, and resolving conflict and disagreements.

Contact Us

Joy Miller

Family and Community Wellness Agent