Who doesn’t love to have fun? Summer is the perfect time to break out of the routine and have some family fun together. There are so many benefits — to both parents and children — when families have fun together.
Families playing together build stronger bonds between parents and children, strengthen communication skills, and pave the way for better behavior in their growing children. The simple fact: families having fun together contributes to healthy child development.
Prior to the 20th century, family bonding occurred primarily through shared work and household chores. With industrialization came a shift in family roles and family dynamics. Urban and suburban families today are not working together all day on the family farm, but finding time to have fun together can provide families opportunities to develop strong emotional connections and deeper family relationships.
We play a lot of board games at our house. As the children get older, we’ve moved on to strategy games that can take hours to complete. Those hours spent together around the game table provide opportunities for conversation. Often the conversation has nothing to do with the game in front of us. Especially for teens, the game table provides a low-stress, device-free environment where they are more likely to share their thoughts and feelings, about particular issues or just life in general.
Engaging in activities as a family group helps children learn to communicate with people who have different styles, opinions, and ways of doing things. Young children observe and then model the behavior of the adults around them. Playing together each individual contributes to the conversation in their own unique way. These varied styles of communication allow young children to observe differences and help them develop robust communication skills.
More family-time together creates stronger emotional bonds as well. Relationship skills help children develop well and have a long lasting effect. Research has shown that teens who spend more time with their parents are less likely to skip school or get into trouble with the law (see Wiley Online).
Better health — and less stress
Spending time together having fun helps both the adults in the family and their children reduce the impact of stress on their health and well-being. Findings from a Canadian research study “underscore the importance of giving greater attention to the role of leisure as a means of coping with stress.”
Choosing energetic activities for family fun, like biking or soccer, will elevate heart rates and reduce cortisol levels. Cortisol is the body’s stress hormone, also known as it’s ‘alarm system.’ Turning off the alarm system with activities that get the body moving can help lower blood pressure.
With so many good reasons. Let’s all take some time this summer to have some family fun together. It does not need to be elaborate or expensive. Here are some suggestions from 100 Ways to Have Fun with Your Kids for Free or Cheap:
- Have a reading marathon.
- Write stories together.
- Play soccer.
- Paint or draw together.
- Create a fort in your living room out of blankets or cardboard boxes.
- Go on a hike.
- Have a sunset picnic at a park or beach.
- Play board games.
You can read the full list here: 100 Ways to Have Fun with Your Kids for Free or Cheap