Paying games with children during lockdown

Adapted from content in ‘Playing Smart’, by Susan Perry.

During this lockdown period, most parents will have spent some time playing games with their children.  When two people of unequal ability (parent and child, older sibling and younger) play games requiring skill, the one who always loses feels frustrated.  The better playing doesn’t have much fun either, since there’s no challenge when you expect to win all the time.  And sometimes both winner and loser simply tire of the same old game.

To meet the needs of those who are playing the game, you might change the rules.  Flexibility and creativity are the key words here.  As long as all the players agree, anything goes (except making mistakes or losing on purpose, since children realise you’re doing it).

Here are some suggestions for the types of creative game-changing that will help to even the odds in some games.

Board games:  When playing Monopoly, give the weaker (younger?) player more money when landing on GO. If one player goes bankrupt, keep playing anyway for a predetermined length of time.

When playing Scrabble or similar word games, look up words before placing them on the board.  This will help to emphasise learning too.

If you like playing Checkers or Chess, play one game as a ‘test game.’ The winner counts how many checkers are left on the board, then starts the second game with that many fewer than the normal number.  For example, if the winner ends up with five checkers on the board, next time he starts with only seven instead of the usual twelve.  Continue this in subsequent games.   For Chess, eliminate competition altogether by having both players talk over each move, looking for and agreeing on the best ones.

If you enjoy card games like poker, you can let your child exchange four or all five cards but limit yourself to one or two. Or let him exchange one card at a time, up to five, so he can build the best possible hand.

Solitaire is a fun card game to play as well. You can play a game together, alternating turns playing the cards. If the game ‘comes out,’ you’re both winners.

Outdoor games can also be tweaked to make them more fun for younger players. If you have a Frisbee, before play begins, players state which hand they will use for throwing and which for catching (or the same hand for both). You can play catch games with balls and other toys too. If the catcher can’t possibly reach the Frisbee at any time during its flight, the catcher gets a point. If she might have caught it, the thrower gets a point (the catcher is the one who decides). Two points are awarded to the thrower if the catcher touches the Frisbee but drops it.  Two points also go to the thrower if the catcher uses the wrong hand or catches it against the body.  Play to 11 or 21 points, switching sides when one player reaches 6 or 11 points.


Contact Details



+27 (0) 21 873 4951
+27 (0) 82 559 9966
+27 (0) 82 414 4814
+27 (0) 86 691 0051

Email  Find an ILT Practitioner near you