Building Confidence with Board Games


The funny thing about building confidence in ourselves is that quite often, we are told what we need to do but not how to do it. For example, if you read any advice on the subject you’ll often see things like “be fearless” or “take risks” but without any suggestion of concrete actions you can take in order to do those things.

As adults, we can usually take those suggestions and place them into a context that makes sense for us. But for our kids, we can’t just say motivational catchphrases in the hopes that they will become confident and self-assured. We have to be able to provide experiences that allow them to build confidence. 

Obviously sports and extra-curricular activities are the most popular and arguably most effective way to develop confidence in kids. However, we don’t always have to rely on organized activities to be able to practice the skills needed for positive self confidence.

As I’ve written about before, board games are a great way to help teach kids certain skills like fine motor skills, communication, and visual spatial awareness. I have found though, that board games are also great to increase confidence. I have noticed that as my kids are engaged in the game, they are unknowingly displaying skills and abilities that can be directly connected to real life situations and scenarios. 

While the main goal of any game is to provide an enjoyable experience, there are many benefits that can be gained, especially in the area of self-assurance. Below are three ways that board games can help reinforce skills and abilities directly related to building confidence.


Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

A child’s ability to look at a problem and know that they can solve it is probably one of the most important aspects of self-confidence. Board games can provide players with many obstacles and situations that require a fair amount of critical thinking and problem solving. Deciding a path to victory, dealing with random events, and deciding how to best use the resources and abilities available are all examples of how board games can mimic real world problem solving.

Having kids go through the process of evaluating problems and determining the best solution, while at the same time having fun, is a great way to build assurance in their ability to think critically and overcome obstacles.

Social Interaction

As you know, board games require multiple people in order to play. As a result, a small community forms every time a game is played. This allows players to unwittingly practice a number of social interactions and skills all the while focusing on the game on the table. This is great for kids because it gives them a chance to work on some solid fundamental social skills in a fun and enjoyable setting without pressure or consequence. 

There are many social skills that can be displayed whenever a board game is played. Some of these include cooperation, reading people, advocating for yourself, taking turns, helping one another, and appropriately handling winning and losing. All of these skills can directly be connected to real world situations, and the more practice kids have with them will only help as they continue to navigate their social world.


Teaching and Learning

Unlike games of the past, modern board games are complex systems that often have sets of rules that can be intimidating and overwhelming. In fact, most games now have age suggestions based on complexity and difficulty. However, I have found that teaching my kids how to play higher difficulty games has shown them that learning new concepts can be rewarding.

Sitting down to a new game that has many rules and mechanics and then immediately being able to display understanding by playing is a great way to show how valuable the learning process is. Nothing builds confidence in a child more than the belief that they are capable of learning, and so being able to reinforce that with them through games has proven to be very beneficial.

I would encourage anyone to not shy away from higher difficulty games with kids. Even though mistakes will be made, the process of understanding complex concepts can help them see that they are capable of learning.

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Alan North

Alan has found that blending a teaching career with parenthood to be quite different than he imagined due to the fact that teaching other people's kids is a lot easier than teaching your own. His passion in the areas of literacy, music, communication and student leadership have helped him to survive/enjoy 15 years of teaching.

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