The trick to avoiding difficulty with teenagers is to start playing games with them when they are little kids. Keep the lines of communication with them open. Talk and listen when they are little, and never stop. Always make yourself available to them. There's no better way to establish a rapport than to get down and dirty with them in a good old-fashioned game: Chess, Checkers, board games, card games, Pool, or Darts—anything that will keep the interaction alive.
This is not only important for family interaction later on, but also for their interpersonal development. Don't let them drift away into virtual reality. Keep them stimulated. Find common ground. Find out what they like and try to be involved. If they don't want you to be involved, just make sure they know you are always there to listen, help, and guide.
Parents are busy—most parents work. It's hard to get a second to yourself and so easy to let the computer, the TV, and the music world baby-sit your kids so you can get a good hour or two of peace after a hard day. But the quality of life you build with your family is critical to their development, and ultimately everyone's happiness. Talk to your kids, listen to your kids, but mostly … play, play, play with your kids!
There's no better way to engage your teenagers than with a pool table, ping-pong table, or dartboard. It's worth spending the money on these games. Most teens will love a competitive, action game. They spend so much time sitting in class and studying for exams, not to mention just trying to figure out what they want and who they are, that a game involving skill and energy will be a nice break from their daily, intensive lifestyle. You may find it hard to pull them away and get them back to the books!
Little kids will always want to play a game—so get them while they're young! Any game you teach them will be fine with them. Whether it's a board game, card game, or word game. Kids just want to be included. If you can get them to learn a thing or two in the process, go for it! If you can have fun and educate at the same time, you can't go wrong.
Chess is a good example of a great teaching tool to use on your kids. They will be forced to learn about patience, structure, and strategy. It's a great way to sit and spend some time with children too. While you're both leaning into the board, planning your next moves, you can also … talk. Chess is a wonderful game for kids of all ages, because not only does it force them to think ahead, memorize moves, and be still for minutes at a time, but it also forces them to think about what someone else is thinking—a great way to exercise principles of cause and effect. “If I do this … such and such might happen.” That's a very valuable tool.