As a positive parenting counselor I constantly stress the importance of playing games with children, because this is how children learn – through play. However, many games are so much more than games; they help us achieve what we, ourselves, struggle with, and they do so while having fun with our kiddos.
Isn’t this what life is all about?
Here’s a handpicked list of the best SEL games for you to play with your children to teach emotional regulation, anger management, communication and coping skills, and so much more! Let’s dive in!
Please note that as an Amazon affiliate I will make a small (even tiny) commission if you make a purchase. But the real beneficiary would be your child 🙂
Now here’s a game I wished had a different, more engaging name, because the game is fantastic, but My Feelings just doesn’t sound like something fun to do. However – it is! Think about all the different scenarios that trigger your children; be it a friend that said something they imagined as hurtful, or a friend that didn’t want to play, something that wasn’t allowed, or a desire that didn’t come true – this game has it all. Not only that your children will feel validated by the very common scenarios, but they will get to practice their reactions so that when a scene takes place in real life, they will be equipped with knowledge and able to react in a beneficial manner. This is a game I recommend to everyone. Check it out here.
I loved this game just for it’s perfect name, but actually playing it made it so much better. We all carry past experience that shape the way we act and think in the future, and this game helps kiddos reflect on situations and coping skills, choose the right coping strategy from a variety of strategies and discuss them with their parents. This is a therapy game, really, that allows you and your child to connect on brand new levels. Check it out here.
Can you imagine a game that teaches your children (and you!) to identify emotional triggers, analyze limiting thought patterns, explore their reaction, and look for alternative ways to react next time?
Don’t Go Bananas is a CBT based card game presenting questions I often ask during therapy, but here – it’s pure fun! Check it out here.
If there’s something I repeatedly hear when I talk to parents, it’s how hard it is for them to know what to talk about with their children, how to have meaningful and impactful conversations, and, that it gets even harder as their children grow and mature. This is why I love this game. You can pull out cards wherever you are, be it when you’re showing the kids, preparing their food, or even watching TV together, and just initiate a conversation. It will start with a card, and it can go anywhere. Check it out here.
Taking things slow is one of the core concepts in Mindfulness. Breathing, not responding on the go, taking our time… Well, Head Rush is exactly the opposite of it, while still promoting Mindfulness, getting to know each other and our selves, and communicating our feelings. Just like Chat Chains, this one, too, is for older children. Check it out here.
This is a fantastic game for early readers that encourages beautiful discussions through which kiddos learn about their own emotions, but also about how other people react to similar situations. A great game to teach empathy and promote profound connections within your family. Check it out here.
I heard about this game from fellow consultants before purchasing it myself, so I knew what I was going to get. This is a wonderful game, especially made for children who are struggling with anger management, that offers a variety of tools and coping mechanism in a fun and engaging way. An awesome card-game to practice Mindfulness in the moment, engage with parents and siblings, and I didn’t even mention how well-designed this game is. A big recommendation from me! Check it out here.
This is by far one of my favorite games mainly because… There are no winners here. The game is about cooperation and being the best we can be, together. How tall can your children’s tower get while celebrating their strengths? Young readers will enjoy on their own, while younger kiddos will need your help reading the card. Whoever plays, they’ll finish the tower feeling better about themselves, more confident, and definitely better connected! Check it out here.
CBT is all about owning and controlling our thoughts instead of being owned and controlled by them. Though the manufacturer recommends this game for kids aged six and higher, I found it to be super helpful with my four-year-old due to the simplicity of the questions and the rather childish illustrations. I always say that, as parents, our main job is to teach our children skills we didn’t have growing up. This is a fantastic game to encourage little ones to find the connection between their thoughts to their feelings, and question whether the thought it right for them, or perhaps they’ll benefit from replacing that thought with another. Check it out here.
One last CBT game, this time for older children, tweens and even teens! This one takes the edge off of challenging emotions using the best medicine: humor. Our thoughts and feeling often seem to grand, and that makes them scary. Once children know that they are larger than their thoughts, and definitely more powerful, things begin to cool and calm down within them, empowering them to search for thoughts that do aid them. This game is another big recommendation from me! Check it out here.