When we opened Cape Fear Games in 2009, my husband and I had no idea that our boys would be diagnosed with ADHD. We didn’t know that board games would help us forge such powerful and meaningful family connections, or that game night would teach some skills even better than school.
Twelve years and two children with ADHD later, we have a treasured collection of favorite board games that help to build skills like working memory, recall, focus, and strategic planning. We have found that exercising these executive functions in game play is particularly helpful for tweens and teens. And I’m so pleased to share with you my family’s Top 10 favorite board games for adolescents with ADHD. (See our Top 10 list of games for younger kids with ADHD here.)
Parent Tip: On YouTube, you can find videos visually explaining how to play tons of games! Trying to navigate the written instructions amid questions and confusion can often shut down a game down before it begins, so do yourself a favor and watch a short tutorial before you call everyone to game night.
Editors' Note: The author of this article is an ADDitude reader. Most of the 'Buy This Game' links below link to her family business, Cape Fear Games. ADDitude receives no commission or compensation from Cape Fear Games.
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1. Unlock! Escape Games
ADHD minds often exhibit excellent out-of-the-box thinking skills, which come in handy while solving these fun, cooperative games. Players work through a deck of cards, carefully combing through details to solve the puzzle at hand. There are multiple versions — from Star Wars themed cards to a mystery treasure hunt — allowing your tween to tap into a specific passion or set a goal to solve them all!
Splendor is a strategic card game in which players acquire precious gem tokens to trade for development cards. Using critical thinking and simple tactical maneuvers, you work to be the first to reach the goal of 15 points. With game play lasting about 30 minutes, it’s easy to find the time for a quick game during a busy evening.
An excellent strategy game boasting easy-to-learn game play, 7 Wonders has a unique feature appealing to teens with ADHD: All game play happens at the same time, so there’s no sitting and waiting for your turn! Another appealing factor is that the cards make it nearly impossible to play the same game twice.
Aside from being a super fun word to say (pronounced KROH-ki-nohl), this game calls upon strategy and skill to flick your playing disc onto specific areas of the board to gain points. With a beautiful handmade wooden board, Crokinole is a great game to leave out on the table in ready mode to challenge your teen as they breeze through the house only stopping to eat. Again.
This is a “king of the hill” type game full of aliens, mutant monsters, and raging robots. Players attack one another to stay in and become the “King of Tokyo.” It’s popular with those who enjoy fast-paced competitive game play with lots of action!
A collectible, fantasy-themed card game filled with dragons, wizards, goblins, and other fantastical creatures, MTG is very appealing to those who enjoy collecting and building decks. For competitive playing, check out your local game store for tournaments where you can meet other players. Since its introduction in 1993, MTG has gathered quite a following and can be an excellent social outlet.
Appealing to teens who love a good comic, this fast-paced superhero-themed card game requires planning and organization to build your deck as you play. Gain points by adding superpowers and locations to your deck to defeat powerful supervillains.
Similar to the familiar game of dominos, Kingdomino uses tiles with two sections. Expand your strategic thinking skills by deliberately placing tiles to expand your kingdom. With great artwork, simple rules, and short play time, it will soon become a favorite.
Use teamwork to stop the goblins and creepy creatures from reaching their castle. With only one player crowned the “Master Slayer” in the end, this cooperative game can get a bit intense when the beasts are slinking closer to the castle. Unlike other co-op games, you are forced to choose between your own competitive desire to win and putting your team first!
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