When In Doubt, Talk It Out

I’m sure you’ve heard the term “analysis paralysis”, or as I like to call it, “vapor lock”. This is when the individual playing the game is unable to make a choice in a reasonable amount of time or at all. Some board games can require a player to make very hard choices on what they should (or should not) do on their turn. Sometimes, the number of choices (or lack thereof) can cause the brain to spin its gears and doubt creeps in. Doubt creates worry; worry creates stress; stress creates the vapor lock.

End result: crabby kids…

When playing with kids (or anyone, for that matter), you should absolutely not push them to make a choice. This is unnecessary pressure and stress. Besides, the goal is to have fun. Pushing your children to make choices is not the way to go. However, nor should you simply let your child take forever to determine what they want to do. After all, there are others who want a turn and the game should not drag on indefinitely. So, how to balance?

You don’t want to push and you don’t want to lead, that would be playing for them. The balance is struck by simply talking about what needs to be done. Ask questions like what the goal of the game is, what their strategy is, what tactics can they employ? By talking about the problem, you can get the player’s mind back on track. More times than not, all it takes is a quick breather and a different point-of-view to get the game going again. If you talk about the issues, the player will develop their own conclusions and solutions. Self-empowerment is a beautiful thing.

Best of all, this tactic of problem solving through supportive, caring dialog between you and your child is applicable to any and all aspects of your family life. Creating and nurturing self-confidence is the goal. We want to raise thinkers and doers who understand and can accept risk. Games provide a safe medium for critical thinking and experimentation with cause and effect without real world penalties. No one lost a thumb or went bankrupt because they couldn’t trade 3 brick for 1 wheat.

Help your young players to keep the game in perspective. Yes, it’s fun to win, but it’s even more fun to enjoy the game.

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About Cyrus

Editor in Chief, Owner/Operator, Board Game Fanatic, Father of Three, and Nice Guy, Cyrus has always enjoyed board, card, miniature, role playing, and video games, but didn't get back into the hobby seriously until early 2000. Once he did, however, he was hooked. He now plays board games with anyone and everyone he can, but enjoys playing with his children the most. Video games continue to be of real interest, but not as much as dice and little miniatures. As he carefully navigates the ins and outs of parenting, he does his very best to bestow what wisdom he has and help nurture his children's young minds. It is his hope and ambition to raise three strong, honorable men who will one day go on to do great things and buy their Mom and Dad a lobster dinner. Cyrus goes by the handle fathergeek on Board Game Geek. You can also check him out on CyrusKirby.com. Yes, he has a URL that is his name. His ego knows no bounds, apparently....

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