How to introduce it – For this one your child will need to be willing to play a board game with you so it may take time to be able to use this technique. If your child turns their nose up at family game night, you can introduce them more casually and spontaneously. Most games, including board games can be adapted to be more therapeutic. Winning, losing and taking turns can all be triggers for children so be mindful of how your child is doing. You can choose games that don’t have a clear winner or loser to start with and just focus on the turn taking piece. Here are a few suggestions below:
Stick ‘Feelings’ words over the colours and practice making the expressions of happy, sad, angry and calm when you land on those colours. Ask your child which colours should match which feelings. For myself, I would choose red for angry, blue for sad, green for calm and yellow for happy but your child may very well have a different idea. If your child is triggered by close proximity and touch, then try taking four turns each with only one person on the mat at a time.
Ups and Downs Charades
Write out or draw a picture of the titles and pick them out of a hat. These can be accomplishments like ‘winning a trophy’ ‘getting an A on a test’ or ‘winning a race’ or disappointments like ‘loosing your shoe’ ‘hurting your hand’ or ‘having an argument with a friend’. If you look at the titles together before you play then you will both have a better chance of guessing correctly which always feels good!
Truth or Dare board game
You can use a basic board game with a dice or spinner and something to use as counter pieces. Make your own cards beforehand. You can decide to assign truth to odd numbers and dare to even numbers or you can place stickers along the board game that say either truth or dare. Truth cards can be things like….. ‘What are you most afraid of?’ or ‘name something that you love about yourself’ ‘what are you proud of?’ etc. Dare cards could say……. ‘Turn to the person on your left and give them three compliments’ or ‘do a silly dance for 10 seconds’ ‘wear a funny hat or make a funny face for the rest of the game’ Don’t make the requirements too difficult or embarrassing and keep them age appropriate. You may need to explain what a compliment is and give an example.
Thanks for reading and I hope this was helpful!
Vicky Wallace, Play and Expressive Arts Therapist