Playing games with a two-year-old

Red Chief loves games and we love Red Chief. As a result, we've spent quite a bit of time helping him to enjoy the likes of Twister, KerPlunk and his current favorite: Connect Four.

The trouble is, it's hard to explain to a two-year-old the official rules of some of those games. Red Chief still has trouble with Candyland -- preferring to tape the colored cards to the wall outside the closet and use them as buttons for his pretend elevator. So, to help us along as we play, we've created some special rules for our games that allow him to have a good time while still presenting us with a challenge that keeps our own minds going.

Here are the rules for our own variation of Connect Four:

Objective: Force a tie

  • There are no turns
  • Either person can play any color in any column at any time
  • Be subject to the whims of your child ("Daddy do a red one")
You'd be surprised how difficult it is to actually force a tie when there is a two-year-old across from you dumping checkers in as fast as he can go. It's tricky to concentrate on both colors at the same time and block one without giving advantages to the other, especially when your little one is thwarting any plans you may have by dumping checkers into the board.

Most of all, just remember to have a good time.

How about you? What have you done to alter the rules of your games to make them more playable by young children while still presenting a challenge for you?


  1. We help Mo with his Uno, and it's been really good for him to learn the colors and numbers. We still keep the same rules, just let him know which cards to find in his hand and someone helps him draw cards if he needs to.

    It's important to remember that in childhood development, the understanding of games and the rules that come with them really doesn't appear until close to 5 years old. So any little bit that they get now, is an early step and parents shouldn't become frustrated by what may be seen as a lack of progress.

  2. I get through Candy Land quicker if I turn over all the cards. Same with SORRY.

    I have often modified rules for a really young player because I'd rather they have fun playing and think of games as fun rather than tedious. When it is fun, they will likely want to play again. Real rules and structure can come later...I've even been known to cheat a little to help the game favor a younger player, but once they get to the point where they really know how to play, they are on their own. That comes around age 6 or 7. Then, when they win, it is fair and square.

    Memory games are good with young kids too. And Go Fish (use Pairs rather than all four of a number -- I usually take out all the reds ones or all the black ones)