by Mia Von Scha, Transformational Coach, motivational speaker, children’s author, student to two Zen Masters (aka kids), avid cloud watcher and lover of life.
Most people who can still remember their teenage years will remember a sometimes wild and inappropriate game of Dare, Truth and Promise. I enjoy games of all sorts, and I find that most kids do too, so I propose a reinvention of this crazy game with an alternative motive – to get to know your kids, to build family spirit and to help them through things they might be struggling with.
It works like this:
1. You have a bottle or something you can spin (yes, I know you all remember spin the bottle too!) and everyone sits in a circle.
2. You spin the bottle and the person that it lands up facing has to decide whether they are going to choose Dare, Truth or Promise.
3. Once they’ve made their choice, one of the other family members can entice them to do something (Dare), or ask them a question (Truth) or give them a task for the next week (Promise).
Each family member will have a chance to be the one giving the instructions or asking the questions, so the adults don’t get to just boss everyone around like they usually do. Keep this in mind when you think up your tasks – it may come back to bite you!
It can be fun to have a points and rewards system or a penalty for dares attempted or not attempted, truths told or lies caught out, and promises fulfilled or not. The idea though is to keep it light and fun.
So that’s the basics of the game as we’ve always played it. Here’s how it can be adapted, keeping in mind that it is only as limited as your imagination.
The idea here is to get your kids out of their comfort zones and help them to grow and extend themselves. Offer enough challenge to be slightly uncomfortable, but not so much as to be distressing. Some ideas…
- Help them to face their fears:
Challenge your child to do something that normally makes them nervous (note – nervous, not terrified) eg. Run into a dark room, go to the toilet by themselves, look under the bed, hold a spider (a harmless one, of course).
- Help them to step out socially:
Dare them to tell someone something that they’ve been putting off, to ask someone to be their friend, to write a love letter to someone they.
- Get them to try new things:
Dare them to taste a new food, to smell something weird, to touch something with an icky texture.
- Help them to learn something: Challenge them to learn to spell a difficult word, to memorise something, to tackle a problem, to finish a puzzle, to figure something out.
- Help them to become independent:
Challenge them to try tying a shoelace, dressing themselves, washing their own hair, making their own breakfast.
Get to know your kids by asking questions that they may not always answer or that you wouldn’t normally ask in everyday conversation. Some examples:
- What is your greatest fear?
- What is the best dream you’ve ever had?
- Who makes you smile?
- What was the last lie you told?
- What do you love about yourself?
- Have you ever kissed a boy/girl?
- What is the naughtiest thing you’ve ever done?
- What is the kindest thing you’ve ever done?
- What is something that someone in this family does that makes you mad?
- What do you love most about living here?
Get your kids to help out around the house as part of the game (here is where a points system really pays off) or to do something that they normally avoid. Make sure you have a mix of fun and not-so-fun tasks to keep them interested. Remember to choose this option yourself when playing so that they can also get you to do things that they would like. Some examples:
- Clean up the dog poo for 2 days
- Help to prepare one dinner
- Make your bed for a week
- Bring me tea in bed
- Find a sneaky way to do something fun for someone in the family
- De-weed the garden
- Wash the car
- Give someone a foot massage
- Do something nice for a sibling
- Not bite your nails for a day
Remember that it’s a game and therefore supposed to be fun. Children are wired to play, so if you can link what you want them to do or what you want to learn from them to something playful they are far more likely to cooperate. This is one way to do that. Happy gaming!