There are many potential benefits to games - they provide structured opportunities for play & for shared family activities, they’re a good way to practice social and relational skills, and they can be lots of fun. But sometimes kids and adults can have a hard time with games -- impatience with taking turns, difficulty following instructions, and struggles with managing the feelings that come with winning and losing.
It is normal to have a hard time with games, especially with winning and losing. Here are some tips to help support your family when you play Mightier interactive games and activities.
Mightier card games and activities are optional
There is a lot of potential upside to playing Mightier games and activities with your family, but all that upside can be lost if we’re forcing kids to play at times when they are opposed to it. If your child is mildly uninterested, it may be worth trying to pique their interest. But if they’re giving you a flat-out “No!”, it’s better to find something else to do in that moment and try to introduce Mightier games again some other day. This is absolutely okay!
Keep it simple
Read through the instructions together, watch a tutorial video together if possible, and consider playing your first round with everyone’s cards showing. If kids are having trouble understanding a game, see if it’s possible to play a simplified version. You do not have to follow the exact rules to have fun. Slow the pace when it looks like your child may be having difficulty understanding, or when a big win or loss moment is approaching. This can help them to take time to process what is happening and prepare for next steps.
Lower the stakes of the game by using team play or by finding a collaborative way to approach game play. Could siblings work together against parents? This can help game play to feel more of a collective experience and less about “me versus you.”
Tip the scales
Mightier's card games are designed to be flexible, with rules that can tip the scales in favor of a particular player, most often the player who is wearing the heart rate monitor. Keep this ability to adjust an advantage toward your child in mind when playing, and consider the roles depending on your child's abilities and level of tolerance. Taking on new challenges during gameplay can feel exciting, rewarding and build confidence when approached at the right pace. If you feel your child is not ready to take on the more difficult side in the gameplay exchange, that's okay. Let them watch you figure this out first for a few sessions. Ask for their help and advice on how to best manage heart rate control during gameplay so that they begin to feel like the expert.
Show your feelings - excitement, disappointment - and talk through your efforts to manage the big feelings that come with game play. E.g. “Hold on a second. I need to take a couple deep breaths. I'm too excited to focus!” This will help your child to feel less alone in their big feelings as they will see adults in their life experiencing what they do.
Pause and return when needed. To develop task monitoring, task completion, and attention skills, try to complete games that you start. If your child has a short attention span, play for a set number of times or turns before leaving for something more active or less stressful. If your child becomes dysregulated, give them time and space to feel calm again, and then return to finish the game. If your child is open to it, work on calming down together. This will help them learn and practice strategies to manage difficult things when they come up. It's not always realistic to return to the game, and that's okay, too.
Remember the ‘hidden’ game in every game. Teach your child that when they play a game, there are actually two games being played at one time. There is the game being played, and there is the game of sportsmanship. To promote being a good sport in winning and losing, place more emphasis on winning the “game of sportsmanship” than winning the game. This will help to support your child’s pro-social skills and help them to find another goal in their play with you.
Contact our Program Specialists if you are looking for additional ideas or support in this area. Every child and every family is different, and there is not a "one size fits all" approach to interaction and engagement. Our team is happy to partner with you in figuring out how to help your family get the most out of all Mightier games and activities.