I love playing Pokémon with my son, Aiden. The Pokémon trading card game may have been created with kids like Aiden in mind, but it’s roped me into his world too and that’s a good thing. Because my second confession is that even though I am a stay-at-home mom and homeschooled Aiden for his first 4 grades, this also made me a reluctant multitasker. And if I am honest with myself about being a multitasker, it can mean that I am not giving my full attention to any one person or activity exclusively, including being with my son.
And my son knows that. So let me add another layer here of why I have to be even more conscious of constantly dividing my attention. Aiden’s self-declared love language (as defined by Gary Chapman: The 5 Love Languages of Children) is Quality Time. Therefore, he not only knows that my attention is often divided but he feels that in a more negative way than if his love language was for example Acts of Service.
At a minimum, he needs at least 30 minutes of exclusive quality time with me each day– where I am sitting down with him face-to-face totally engaged and playing- or he kind of wilts inside and that can be revealed in other unhappy moments and exchanges. Knowing that, I have to find the right activities to make that connection happen.
And that it why I love playing the Pokémon Trading Card Game with Aiden. Playing Pokémon is a totally engaging strategic battle that requires us to block out the rest of the world and reconnect over the cards.
It sounds very serious and sometimes it is, but it is amazing to me how that very process has lent itself to wit and laughter, and some real heart-to-heart exchanges because of us giving over to the process of being right here, right now that the game demands.
I also relish that Pokémon is good for a child’s reasoning skills.
Each Pokémon is unique and requires some getting acquainting. Pokémon are like people. They have their strengths and weaknesses, their abilities and their affiliations. The description of each character is written right onto the card and each profile can be studied in detail to best know how to skillfully play them.
Kids can excel at this card analysis, which with its conditional wording (if this…then that…) teaches children a kind of sophisticated legalese that helps them to develop higher level thinking skills regarding how to optimally maneuver within rules and limitations.
I have been thrilled at times when Aiden debated the merits of a play by diving into the text of a card for evidence, the only missing future occupational words being “Your honor, I object based upon the law’s stated conditions for this attack…”
I value Pokémon as an excellent travel game.
A Pokémon deck is lightweight and two decks can be easily transported in a backpack or purse to be taken out in any plane, departure lounge or hotel accommodation. It is the right game to bring when travelling long distances, particularly for extended stays in faraway lands when children and parents need the familiarity of a bonding ritual that is playful, engaging and fun. Games can be quick or last up to 20 minutes depending on the how the cards are stacked and played.
It is also a good social tool wherever you go. It is common to find other children in your travels who carry Pokémon cards with them, as well. Finding a fellow Pokémon collector for kids can create an instant bond followed by a frenzy of exhilarating card trading that is one of the best ice breakers, especially for boys, that I have ever seen.
Finally and importantly: playing Pokémon is fun!
A good game of Pokémon is super entertaining and never the same exchange twice. Aiden and I improve our gaming techniques over time and it becomes even more fun to play anything with some cultivated skill. And of course introducing a new deck of Pokémon into the mix recreates the excitement of learning new strategies all over again…
On a sentimental note, I also have add here what it means for a child when a parent bothers to learn how to play a game with them. I initially learned because Aiden wanted to move beyond collecting the trading cards and into actually playing Pokémon; he didn’t know how the game worked and had turned to me for answers.
Aiden really appreciated the effort that I made to learn and fortunately I found that not only was it a lot of fun but it has also been a really great way for us to bond when we needed it. Moving to a new country can be rough on kids and finding a common medium for us to get through the rough times together was appreciated by me, too.
For that reason, I want to support parents who want to learn how to play Pokémon with their kids. It’s much easier than you think to get started- sometimes we just need the super basic guide lines to get us off and running. So I have created a Parent Tutorial and tried to break it down into the most digestible format that I could design! I hope that it helps to get you started on your Pokémon journey with your kids.
So without further ado, here it is: The easy, encouraging parent tutorial on how to play Pokémon with your kids! You can do this!