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5 Reasons Why You Should Teach Your Kid Pen and Paper Roleplaying Today

Updated on August 13, 2018
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Tjoedhilde is a geeky mom who loves RPG's, boardgames, fantasy novels and her 5 year old daughter.

At What Age Can Kids Start Playing Roleplaying Games?

The average parent spend less than 10 minutes a day playing with their 6-12 year old children. Time constraints probably have something to do with that, but I suspect that during this age span it is also hard for many parents and children to find an activity they can both enjoy.

My solution to avoid ending up dreading playtime, has always been to include my daughter in activities I enjoy myself.

The latest project has been to get her excited about pen and paper roleplaying games which is a huge passion of mine.

I feared that at 5 years old she may be too little to understand or and enjoy role playing or that the concept of rule based play may be too complex for her, I did not need to worry. Below is and extract from our latest game and 5 reasons why you should introduce roleplaying to your child right now.

You enter a clearing in the forest. In the middle stand a looming tower..

"what does looming mean?"

It means large and a bit scary.. ahem. There's a window far, far up and a door at the bottom, but it appears to be locked. What do you do?

"I climb the tower!"

Roll below your strength (5).

"What does below mean?"

It means you need to roll a number smaller than 5 so either 1, 2, 3 or 4.


Great! You climb up the tower and enter through the window. In the middle of the room there's a chest, there is also a dressing table in the room with a hand mirror on it, otherwise the room is empty. Do you open the chest?

"But mom! That's not mine, what if the one who put the chest there get sad?" ...

Roleplaying Games Are an Opportunity to Teach Your Kid Your Values

Roleplaying settings are the perfect place to pitch your kid against moral dilemmas in a safe environment.

Here you can present them with situations where there are clear right and wrong answers and where the consequences for picking the wrong one would be dire in the real world.

In the fantasy setting it is however only their character that gets in trouble for stealing or getting into a fight and you can make sure that the consequences to the character are severe for breaking social rules and behavior frameworks you want to teach your kid.

If your kid is very young you can also let a non-player character carry out those actions and let them see the consequences without their character being directly affected.

As you can see in my introduction, it is also a great way to (sometimes unexpectedly) test that the moral values you are trying to instill on an every day basis have taken root.

One advice though. Do not make the main goal of role playing about teaching values as your kid will then most likely stop finding the activity, but sprinkle moral lessons in here and there as an added bonus.


Pen and Paper RPGs Are All about Creative Problem Solving

How do I get into the tower when the door is locked?

How do I break the curse that made me tiny?

What's the answer to the sphinxes riddle?

A good roleplaying session contains a number of puzzles that needs to be solves in a satisfying manner in order for the heroes to win.

Apart from teaching your kid how to put together different pieces of information to understand the bigger picture, it is also very rewarding as you can often see the wheel turning and how they build their conclusions based on the input you feed them.

Pretty awesome to experience.

The best part is that unlike computer games and traditional boardgames where there's usually one or a few set solutions to any problem. Pen and paper RPG gives the game master the option to accept solutions that are out of the box.

This means your kid is encouraged from a very young age to not just look for the generic road, but to be creative in their problem solving.


Roleplaying Creates a Safe Space to Experiment with Conflicts Resolution

Conflicts are scary for most kids especially because they often don't know how to react in a constructive manner.

In a roleplaying session you can pit them against evil, mean or just misbehaving antagonists and let them experiment with solving the conflicts that arise through their interactions.

You can even give them a non-player character party member that exhibits some of the behavior that you'd like your kid to stop.

Tired of it taking ages to get out of the door in the morning? Make the party member take their sweet time packing up their belonging and break camp every time they have to get moving.

See how your kid reacts and how they attempt to get the NPC to improve their behavior, then if applicable use their logic the next time you are stuck in the morning waiting for someone to put on their shoes.

It's also a great space to talk about whether violence is a good solution to conflict. We had an encounter with a troll that my daughter solved by explaining to him how sad he made everyone when he destroyed their homes.

RP'ing with Your Child Gives You Valuable Insights

Probably the benefit I have enjoyed the most from roleplaying with my daughter is that I get a unique insight into her view of the world.

It's been an incredible bonding experience where I have learned a lot about her fears, dreams and worldview as a whole.

And I have seen how she approaches problems and where she has trouble allowing me to better support her on a day to day basis.

The reason for this is that we suspend reality for a while and I am no longer present in the role of mom, but as the characters I portray. That gives a sort of fly on the wall moment with my daughter that I have not captured in any other activity. Not even when we play pretend with her dolls etc.


Pen and Paper Roleplaying Is Fun for the Whole Family

With all of the above, don't forget the main purpose of roleplaying with your kid. You want to have fun. You want to introduce them to something you are passionate about and give them an entry point to the magical world of geekiness.

Kids are perceptive. They can feel when you are doing something because you believe it's your obligation as a parent (Playing pretend with Barbies), but they can also feel when you are powerfully passionate about something. And that passion will rub off on them and make the whole experience incredible.

Oh and finally, your kid gets to be a hero, the one that takes initiative and saves the day. They get a space where they can be a bit more in control than in the real world. That's big for children, especially younger ones in bigger familes.


Have You Played Roleplaying Games with a Young Child?

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© 2018 Tjoedhilde


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