- Getting Gamey: Using Games for Development
While it may seem old fashioned, playing board games and card games with your kids is a great way to spend time together. Not only are you creating positive memories, you are improving your family life by increasing communication and closeness.
Board games also teach all kinds of valuable skills – academic, social, emotional, and life skills. Simply by playing games, children become more competent at counting, reading, paying attention, following rules, taking turns, listening, waiting, recognizing boundaries, being a good loser and a gracious winner, etc. Games also teach perseverance – just when you think you are losing, your luck can change if you just stay in the game a few minutes longer! Here are a few traditional games and some of the skills that they teach:
Monopoly® – improves reading, budgeting skills, reasoning, and patience
Scrabble® – enhances spelling, language skills and strategy skills
Chess and checkers – increases thinking ahead, impulse control, and strategy skills
Sorry® – facilitates how to be assertive about one’s own needs and handle set backs
Bop It® - reinforces attention and listening skills
Connect Four® – enhances strategy skills, delayed gratification, and dealing with frustration
Clue® – enhances attention and deductive reasoning
Chutes and Ladders® – teaches counting and handling disappointments
In addition to traditional toy store board games, there are also specially designed games to help children develop better social, emotional, and behavioral skills. These specialized, “therapeutic” games address topics such as impulse control, worry/anxiety, grief, divorce, anger, self-esteem, social skills, bullying, etc. Here are some examples:
Games that promote self-control
The Impulse Control Game
Remote Control Impulse Control
The Angry Monster Machine
Stop, Relax, and Think
Look Before You Leap
Games that promote family functioning
My Two Homes
The Changing Family Game
The Upside Down Divorce Game
Family Quest: A Family Therapy Board Game
Games that promote social competence
Circle of Friends
The Social and Emotional Competence Game
Circle of Respect
Understanding Faces Game
There are also inexpensive, downloadable therapeutic games that can be electronically saved and printed from your own printer, such as those at HYPERLINK “http://www.castlewellgames.com” www.castlewellgames.com (Full disclosure: this is the author’s website).
Children (like all of us) do not appreciate being lectured to, so games are a wonderful way for parents to teach healthy social/emotional skills. Children let down their guard as they play, thereby creating opportunities for more genuine communication to take place. And, as therapeutic games offer suggestions for how to handle various problems, parents can refer back to these game elements when those day-to-day, in-the-moment problems arise. Play on!
Tonia Caselman, PhD, LCSW, is Associate Professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Ok. In addition to teaching, she maintains a private practice for children and youth. She is the author/co-author of numerous journal articles, books, and therapeutic games related to children’s mental health. She has most recently co-created a website for inexpensive, downloadable games for social/emotional development at HYPERLINK “http://www.castlewellgames.com” http://www.castlewellgames.com
- Maman and Mum
Kyla McDonald grew up in Vancouver and now lives in Winnipeg, where it may be cold, but at least you don’t have to pass your mortgage down to your children. She would like to run an organic vegetable farm and live sustainably, but currently works part time as a French immersion teacher, part time as a Norwex rep, part time running her own French classes, part time tutoring and spends every other little scrap of time with her lovely partner and their beautiful little boy.
When I was asked to write this article, I thought of all the different issues I could address, I thought about the insemination process we underwent, the language surrounding same sex parenting. I thought about the hoops we had to jump through, the money we had to save and the lack of ‘romance’ involved in our conception. Then I thought about the issues our son will face as he grows up with two moms. The assumptions people will make about his sexuality. The judgments he will learn to fear. Then I felt tired.
I am a mom, well actually a maman. I love my son; I want to talk about him incessantly to everyone I meet. I want to tell you about the words he is saying, the things he is doing and just how adorable he truly is. Sometimes I want it to end there. I don’t want to have to ‘come out’ when you ask about his dad. I don’t want to have to explain that it is a donor; I don’t want to have to wait and see if you will condemn my family because our loving circle lacks a patriarch.
It is true; our family is different than any of the now accepted norms. Single parents, blended families, kids being raised by family members, have all become more mainstream, but same-sex parenting still has a way to go before it becomes just another family set-up. When you hear me say to my son, “let’s go home and see mum,” do you assume that I must be an aunt or a family friend? Out of the estimated 195 countries that exist today, 14 of them allow for same-sex couples full adoption and parenting rights.
I don’t mind talking about the process of becoming a gay parent. In fact I would much rather that people ask questions than make assumptions. My partner and I are open to sharing our experience to help and educate others. We enjoy talking about our experience; it has brought us the biggest joy in our lives. But, please, don’t sum us up as a gay family. Gay doesn’t define us or our family, anymore than straight, gay or queer defines you or yours.
Our son is an incredibly loved and cared for little boy. He has two parents who want to spend time with him; he has grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins who are involved in his life. He is just like your little girl or boy, except that, he doesn’t say dada, he says mum and mama. Is that really such a big difference?
- My Family Map
“The Family Map”
I’ve lost count how many times I’ve had the same conversation regarding my family composition. For some reason everyone I have ever met starts with the same question “what is your family like?” I don’t know if they intrinsically know that I have a jumbled family (maybe I have it written on my head somewhere?!) or if they’re genuinely curious. Whatever the case may be, it’s fine by me to give a brief history, I am very proud of who I am and how I am made. The funny thing is how the person reacts to the information I’ve given. The conversation is WAY more complicated that it really needs to be, but it always seems to spin out of control. Let me demonstrate;
Person: So what’s your family like?
Me (M): My dad is R and my mom is C, but I have another mom her name is P.
Person: Wait, huh?!
M: P is my stepmom; she’s married to R. R and C (my biomom) split when I was two. P and R have been together since I was three (or so that’s what I’ve been told – hard to remember details from 27 years ago!)
Person: So, do you have any brothers or sisters?
M: Oh yeah, I have one brother CJ and one sister S
Person: But they’re not related to you.
M: Yes they are, my sister is C’s daughter but not R’s daughter and my brother is R’s son, but not C’s son – he’s P’s son, so yeah, they’re both related to me.
Person: Oh, so they’re you’re “HALF” siblings!!
M: I guess, although I don’t think of it that way (This usually leads to another detailed discussion)
Person: So who is S’s dad?!
M: Oh he is SH and he was married to C but then they split not long after S was born so he’s never really been around. C married L a few years later and L pretty much became S’s dad; my stepdad.
Person: you know what?! All of this is very confusing… (Insert nervous chuckle here) I think I need a map to understand it all!
It is very interesting to see the person’s demeanor change throughout the conversation – from relaxed and interested to a bit agitated, nervous and confused. They always apologize for asking, not sure if it’s because they themselves are sorry they asked or if they think it’s hard for me to recount; that part I’ve never understood.
The conversation is always the same, the starting, the details and even the ending with the person asking to see a map (I kid you not!). So here it is.. and as I told you it isn’t really all that complicated.
So many people have a trunk for their tree.. I have a map and I couldn’t be prouder!!