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Family Playtime: Making Time To Have Fun Together

When is the last time your family played together? It may be a challenge to get kids on board the family activity train, but it’s not impossible. With the right approach and some creativity, you can get them to put down their phones and join the fun.

“The parent’s attitude is contagious, so you don’t want it to feel like one more thing you have to squeeze in, but something that’s enjoyable,” says Cynthia Copeland, New York Times bestselling author of Family Fun Night: 300 Great Nights With Your Kids. “Don’t pick a time when you’re competing with other things. Maybe Sunday afternoon works better than nights—or just be spontaneous.” 

Copeland advises parents to always be ready with family activity ideas and then let the kids pick the music and the games. Ask them to teach you to play their favorite—maybe even the computer game you think you’d hate.

Playing board games is a great way to spend time with your teenagers. Family game night is also a great way to teach teenagers some really important skills.

“By learning to be good at games you learn how to listen, how to pay attention, and how to be a good loser or winner” says Nicole Burt, Ph.D. a curator of Human Health and Evolutionary Medicine for the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

And that’s just for starters. Games can teach teenagers about problem solving, creativity, risk taking, and working with others.

Lauren DePino and her boyfriend spend Friday nights playing games with his three kids (ages 8, 15, and 16). Yahtzee, backgammon, and bowling are standards, or they play a video game that involves all five of them working as a team.

“If we didn’t initiate it, they’d probably do their own things, but we feel like it’s important to engage,” DePino says. “And once we’re all sitting around Monopoly, there’s a lot of joking and laughing. Sometimes they have their phones out, but it’s because they’re Snapchatting their friends photos and videos of how much fun they’re having.”

Jaimie Seaton

Jaimie Seaton is a freelance writer and frequent Your Teen contributor.