A few years back, a friend of mine told me how her daughter Kathy was feeling down and unsure about herself. Young Kathy was 10 years old at the time and for reasons unexplained, she was starting to develop doubts in herself and her mom was finding it difficult to get her to open up. Heavy stuff for a young child and sadly enough, I could relate.
When I was a tween, and through to my teen years, I too suffered from dwindling self-esteem, depression and doubts of purpose for varying reasons. However, in time I found a release from my adolescent self-deflation through personal creativity. Being artistic through developing my own comic book stories and board game prototypes gave me drive and purpose. I found a personal talent previously unnoticed which helped me deal with school, family and life issues I previously felt powerless to tackle. Understanding how even a hint of creative thinking can change a young life, I believed young Kathy needed the same boost to potentially see her possibilities.
If you help a child realize their special talent, believe in that talent and support that talent, you will watch that child grow up energized, confident and determined. That’s my belief and I’m sticking to it!
When Kathy’s mom informed me that she did like playing games, what I decided to do was to introduce the unique idea of her own personal board game. When I say “personal”, I don’t mean some store bought mass-produced thing I got just for her. No, no – what I was offering her was worth a mere 99 cents, but its true value could not be measured monetarily. I was giving her ‘herself’ in a way that was inexpensive, fun and most importantly, customizable to reflect who she was as a person.
What I made was a game board that had game spaces that spelt out her name ‘K-A-T-H-Y’ and each space had a different instruction for players to learn about her. The game had question cards based on Kathy so her friends and family could quiz each other on why she was awesome and an amazing friend. In essence, an ego boost with each role of the die and flip of a card. An opportunity for those around her to learn about this special girl on Kathy’s terms.
To show Kathy and her mom how to make it – in addition to my You Tube subscribers – I made her game an online video to start the creative process and would leave further additions to her imagination. Once sent off in the mail, I was told she loved the Bristol board game received and had fun with her friends playing it and adding more components based on her desires. Who knows, perhaps I helped her see a future in game design? Either way, she was feeling better and that was a victory towards growing confidence.
I felt positive knowing I was helping a young person enjoy finding out about themselves through a simple board game and I really believe simple, low-tech ideas like this can do wonders for parents looking to uplift their kids through creativity.
In a world of fast-paced high-tech everything, incredible peer pressure from a young age and insane competition for academic excellence, we parents sometimes forget that our young soldiers are going through the same odd, confusing and self-esteem enigma swings we did back in ‘simpler’ times – but now with more distractions. From age 5 to age 18, kids are trying to figure out who they are and there will always be things we don’t know or see outside the home that could be steering them down the wrong paths. We have to get involved and pay attention and not assume things will just work themselves out.
My advice, from one dad to other dads and moms reading this, is to communicate with your kids when you see a change in mood, find time to turn off all the tech distractions, grab some old-school markers/pencil crayons, get some Bristol board and make a fun board game together on a Friday night. Trust me – you will all bond, talk, share and learn about each other in ways that will last a lifetime. Being a parent is awesome! Cheers till next post.