George Washington can teach parents and children a thing or to about etiquette and board games. Our first president, at the young age of 16 wrote a book “Rules of Civility & Decent Behaviour in Company and Conversation: a Book of Etiquette.” Of his 110 rules about manners, parents should always follow George Washington’s rule number 48. The rule for teaching etiquette to children using board games is a simple one: lead by example.
Teaching Etiquette to Children Using Board Games
Check Yourself First
George Washington wrote, “Wherein wherein you reprove Another be unblameable yourself; for example is more prevalent than Precepts.” Children’s best beacon of manners is their own family. Parents set a strong example, and siblings also provide unspoken directives on how to behave while playing board games.
Who’s On First?
Arguing and disappointment can start before the game begins, when everyone decides they want to go first. Teach fairness by using a random way of determining who goes first. Each player may draw a card or shake the dice, with the highest number going first. Let kids know if the play will then be clockwise or counter-clockwise. For games with many rounds, assure each child that everyone will have a turn to go first.
Rules guide every social situation, whether they are spoken or not. Reviewing the rules before the game starts will minimize disputes and provide kids with parameters. Have a practice round before playing any game for the first time, to build kids’ confidence and understanding.
Sportsmanship: Lessons in a Box
Board games provide parents with a quiet and non-public way to help kids learn about sportsmanship, without the pressures often found on a sports field. When kids learn how to be good sports, that lesson carries over to the soccer and football fields, softball and baseball fields and the basketball court.
Being a Good Winner: A Balancing Game
Board games help parents teach kids a balance between competitiveness and having fun. There’s a difference between being proud and boasting. Parents can use board game time to teach kids how to be proud of winning, without “rubbing it in” and calling the other players losers.
Being a Better Loser
Learning how to be a better loser challenges both parents and kids. Congratulate the winner each time, without making snide remarks. Smile and be genuinely happy for the winner. Your actions speak volumes to your kids.
Be Time Aware – Teach kids to be respectful to other plays, by limiting the time for each turn. Older kids will also learn to be more confident in their game decisions, without over thinking them.
Don’t Give Up – Teach kids to follow through with the game and finish, even if they are losing.
Consequences for Cheating – It happens. Sometimes cheating happens during game play. Have real in-game consequences for any player caught cheating, from paying a fine to going back a certain amount of spaces.