Parents, teachers, counselors and therapists love this simple game… and my five-year old son loves it, too. My son actually hides the game under my pillow so that we can play before we go to sleep. The Ungame is a great tool to nurture mindfulness and it’s a game that’s not a game…
It’s called The Ungame because it’s a game without competition or losers, hence the name “Ungame”.
What I personally love about it is that it promotes mindful listening skills and nurtures acceptance and understanding of others and self. Also, it helps us discuss topics we’d normally not talk about that often and it brings us closer to each other as a family. Win win win!!
How to play The Ungame
It’s a simple game, too. The game is basically a deck of cards with questions and topics to talk about. Each player draws a card with a question and answers it. The other players listen without commenting. With younger kids you can read the questions for them.
Here are some examples:
“Did you ever tell on someone?”
“Talk about someone you respect and why you respect him/her.”
“Talk about your confidence.”
“What is something you are sorry for?”
“When do you feel nervous?”
You get about 140 topics that might not come up in ordinary conversation. The idea is to let the players talk in a safe environment without criticism or judgment. This promotes honesty when you play with a group. Sometimes you get a card that allows you to comment or ask another player a question.
However, what we like to do at home is … in addition we discuss the topic together. We’ve changed the rules like that so that we get to spend more time on each topic. I think it’s wonderful to hear my son talk about these things. As a parent I learn so much about my son with this simple game.
Benefits of playing the Ungame
The best thing about the game is that it takes zero effort. Last night my son hid the cards in bed and when we woke up today he made us play it in bed. It was a wonderful way to connect first thing in the morning. We got to talk about stuff we’d normally not talk about.
This time we talked about our feelings and dreams and how we’d make the world a better place. Anton said he’d get rid of gravity so that we’d be able to fly everywhere … and he’d invent a robot that would get rid of road dust ( dad’s allergic ).
Anton got so excited that he decided he could grow up to be an inventor. We continued to talk about kids who’ve invented exciting stuff. Like the kid from Ireland who invented how to get micro plastic out of the seas, the kid who invented how to remove trash out of the seas and the girls who invented solar powered tents for the homeless in California.
All this happened in about ten minutes … at a time we’d normally be sluggish and maybe even a little grumpy. This time when we got out of bed we were happy and continued our lively discussion at breakfast.
Yesterday when Anton and I were both grouchy, we decided to rest and play the Ungame in bed. We kissed and hugged when we talked about things we love. After about twenty minutes we felt connected and happy. It was amazing how playing the game changed the way we felt. Simply by paying attention to each other – truly listening and learning about each other. Yes, that’s mindfulness in action :)
Another great feature is that you actually get two decks of cards. The first one contains more lighthearted subjects and is perfect to start with.
“What do you daydream about?”
“When you give something to someone, do you expect to get something back? Why?”
The second deck contains more serious topics.
“When do you feel like crying?”
“Do you enjoy sharing things? Why or why not?” .
The cards are small and you can play the game pretty much anywhere … traveling, in your car, in the classroom, after dinner and so on. You can play it with groups or one-on-one. It’s great for families and at school and even for counseling sessions.
With the Ungame everyone wins. I can’t recommend it enough :)
And now that we’ve cycled through all the questions, I’ve actually started to write my own deck with mindfulness related topics, cues and questions.
So, I just might publish my own mindfulness based deck in the future.
Let me know if you’d like one, and I’ll let you know when and if I get it done :)
Where to find the Ungame
You can get the Ungame from Amazon via the links below.
The Pocket Ungame Kids Version ( this is the one we have )
I hope you’ll enjoy this fun mindfulness tool!
And I wish you many many mindful moments :-)
Chris ( Chief Mindfulness Ninja @ Blissful Kids )
There aren’t that many so … here’s another great “mindfulness tool” for you:
If you happen to buy the Ungame via my links you’ll get the same best Amazon price and I’ll get a small commission to support this blog. Win win! :)
If you are new to mindfulness with children OR you want to make practice easy we recommend our online courses.
Chris Bergstrom is a bestselling mindfulness author, the founder of BlissfulKids.com, a blog dedicated to children’s mindfulness, and a dad who is thrilled to practice mindfulness with his son. He is a certified mindfulness facilitator and trained to teach mindfulness to students in K-12. He’s also known as “the dad who tried 200+ mindfulness activities” and has taught meditation for more than 15 years.