A week or so ago, David from Room Escape Artist asked me for tips on doing Escape Rooms with kids.
As of this writing, my two children are 10 and 13. I have done almost ten rooms with them and they both love it. I also have done puzzle hunts with my kids for their birthdays, Easter and Christmas.
Now, I haven’t sent them off to do their own birthday party at an Escape Room. To me, that sounds like throwing cats into a shower and then locking the bathroom door. However, some kids have had a great time with it!
Fortunately, I have a small idea of what my kids like in an escape room. If you know the kids, great! But remember, kids are different and finicky. Some may be too young. Some may not like taking orders. Some may hold on to clues because they don’t like sharing. (If YOU have issues with this, maybe you shouldn’t do a room with children.)
What do I do when I take my kids along so we all don’t kill each other?
- Do an easier room – Kids like winning as much as adults do.
- Choose an appropriate theme – Goes without saying, but hey. Gauge which ones your kids would be ok with.
- Do a room with unlimited hints or a guided experience – I have a hard time asking for hints, but not kids. We do live in the age of the game faqs and strategy guides. You know what I had as a kid? Invisiclues! I didn’t have this internet stuff you young folk keep using!
- Let them ask for the hint – If asking for a hint bruises your ego, get your kid to do it. That’s what I do.
- Flashlights are fun – If you have a dark room, make sure they give you enough flashlights for the kids to hold. You DON’T want arguments on who gets the flashlight.
- Searching is fun – Hide and seek is still a fun game for them. Let them search for stuff. They’ll be better at it too. My youngest loves looking through books to find things. Good thing, I hate doing that.
- Keys and Locks are fun – The act of unlocking a lock is fun, regardless of who solved it. Let them do it.
- Let them do the Task Puzzles – There will be a room where you will have to do some task. Maybe you will need to grab some keys with a hook and rope. Maybe it will be sorting. Give them each a turn. Sure, you won’t win any puzzle solving records, but it’s better than a sulking kid. For harder tasks, I may eventually get an adult to do the puzzle, but I make sure each kid gets the same amount of turns.
- Give Hints – If you see a solution to a puzzle, then help the kid out with hints! Show them the pattern or clue that lead you to the solution. Don’t tell them the solution or do it for them. Let the kid get the satisfaction of solving the puzzle!
- Don’t put them down or blame them – Do I have to say this? Seriously, I wasn’t going to. But if you’re the type of adult that puts down your team mates because they didn’t solve something, maybe you shouldn’t bring a kid with you.
- Tell them what to do – Some may need direction. If you aren’t normally the one to help guide the flow of an escape room, you will have to with kids.
- They think differently, don’t underestimate them – If you are NOT an Escape Room Enthusiast, then you probably aren’t aware that when you put together a team, you’re not looking for a bunch of “smart” people. There have been many examples where my kids have solved puzzles because I was too busy looking at it from a pattern recognition direction or something else that fits my brain.
One time, my daughter joined a team of eight adults for an escape room. They were polite, but they weren’t expecting much. In the end, they were shocked at how useful she was. Remember, sometimes too much experience will send you down wild, over-thinking, rabbit trails. Children are great for not over-thinking things!
Now, to be fair, you also want to make it fun for you, so don’t make it ALL about the kids. Solve some puzzles on your own. After a while, you will find a healthy balance that is a good experience for all!
Any questions or comments? Please contact us!