Boosting Brain Power: Playing A Game Can Do All That!
by Erik Fisher, Ph.D. View Bio
Leading Emotional Dynamics expert, Erik Fisher, Ph.D., aka Dr. E…, has been changing the lives of children, teens and adults for two decades. As a psychologist, media consultant and author, his unique and creative approach to his work has earned him the respect and accolades of his clientele, his colleagues, and the media. On the radio, he has been providing interviews for more than 15 years on stations across North America and has been interviewed for countless print articles in magazines, from Parents to Cosmopolitan, and newspapers across the country from The Atlanta Constitution to the Chicago Tribune the the L.A. Times. Dr. E… has two published books, The Art of Empowered Parenting: The Manual You Wish Your Kids Came With and The Art of Managing Everyday Conflict: Understanding Emotions and Power Struggles and proposals for three book concepts. As he says, "Life happens for us, not to us, and understanding that is the key to our own empowerment."
- Try to incorporate some cognitive play into your day to help kids learn valuable life skills.
- Play your best game! Let your child learn from their loss, it will help them gain confidence when they win in the future.
- By incorporating board games into play, children can find solutions to problems by developing their own strategies and analyzing their previous approach.
Leading Emotional Dynamics expert, Erik Fisher, Ph.D., aka Dr. E…, has been changing the lives of children, teens and adults for two decades. As he says, "Life happens for us, not to us, and understanding that is the key to our own empowerment."
What if I told you that games can help your child in school and in life? In my two decades of working with kids and families, there have been countless times that I have played games with kids only to have a parent raise an eyebrow. However, playing cognitive skill games with kids as a therapist is not by accident. Parents need to understand the important cognitive skills learned through games and not hesitate to get on the floor and play!
Cognitive skills include many of the skills that we require for successful academic performance, as well as performance in many life skills. They include attention, concentration, memory, critical thinking, and more. From very early ages, it is important to help develop these skills in your kids, as well as continuing that development into adulthood. Many times, we put the emphasis of cognitive skill development in the classroom but including board games in the mix could be crucial for future success. Research has shown the cognitive benefits of games also include enhancing reasoning and problem-solving skills.
“Many times, we put the emphasis of cognitive skill development in the classroom but including board games in the mix could be crucial for future success.”
Therapeutically, cognitive skills are important to helping people assess and manage life events to explore options and find successful outcomes. Playing games like chess, checkers, mancala and card games are important to first see how kids approach situations and what their strategies are.
Here are some tips for how to successfully boost brain power through games:
- Select a game that is age appropriate
- Make sure that everyone understands the rules and be patient as they may learn.
- Watch your tone of voice and temper and continue to encourage.
- As they play, observe their approach and risk-taking, ability to learn and follow rules, thought processes, resilience, and adaptation from match to match.
- After a game, ask them to verbalize what they were thinking through the game and what they thought the other person was thinking. (After a bit, kids (and parents) begin to see how the patterns that they are exhibiting while playing the game are similar to how they approach life, and the proverbial “light-bulb” goes off!)
- Encourage them to play different games and reward their efforts and willingness to try.
- Don’t turn every game into a life lesson. Sometimes, just play the game and enjoy each other!
During the game, be sure to not only be focused on listening and teaching, but also you should be playing your best game! The reason to do this is to not let your child feel like you have played down to them. It is important that they be aware that when they learn from someone else, they can win too. It is important to learn how to manage a loss and realize that failure tells us when it is time to learn. And when they do beat you (and one day they will!) they will know that you played your best game, which helps them to gain confidence.
The best outcome is when kids come back and want to play again, having developed their own strategies, and can critically analyze their and your approach. This is when they are thinking not only about how they think (meta-cognition), but how others think (perspective taking), which is so powerful when it comes to problem solving and beginning to understand people. Teaching kids the ability to evaluate how they learn can often be more important than what they learn, and games can be an avenue for them to do this.
Have you played with your kids today?