Complaining or grateful?
by Janice Ross
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To raise awareness of our tendency to complain rather than to be grateful.
Preparation and materials
- Have available an image of Mr Grumble from the Mr Men series by Roger Hargreaves and the means to display it during the assembly. An example is available at: https://tinyurl.com/y7s6za2s
- You will need six children to act out the prearranged scenarios in the ‘Assembly’, Step 5.
- Optional: you may wish to have available a copy of the Mr Men book about Mr Grumble to show the children.
- Optional: you may wish to show the children other characters from the Mr Men book series. Some examples are available at: https://tinyurl.com/y8767hou
- Show the image of Mr Grumble.
Ask the children if any of them can identify him. Explain that it is Mr Grumble from the Mr Men series by Roger Hargreaves.
- Ask the children if any of them have read the Mr Men book about Mr Grumble.
Ask if anyone knows Mr Grumble’s favourite word. Explain that Mr Grumble’s favourite word is ‘Bah!’
- Ask the children to think of things that Mr Grumble might grumble about.
Point out that in the story, Mr Grumble complains about:
- the alarm clock ringing
- the countryside
- singing and laughing
- people who jump onto tables
Explain that Mr Grumble scowls and stomps through every day, not liking anything.
- Ask the children to think about whether they ever grumble. Ask what sorts of things they might grumble about.
Listen to a range of responses.
Suggestions could include getting up, doing homework, tidying their bedroom and washing up.
- Ask the children to watch the following short scenarios and to see whether they ring any bells.
Ask the prearranged children to perform their sketches.
Sketch 1: Child and Dad
Child: I’m bored!
Dad: Bored? Think of all the toys you have to play with.
Child: I’ve played with them all. Brian got a new scooter for his summer holiday.
Dad: That’s nice for Brian, but his family have more money than we do.
Child: It’s not fair! Bah!
Sketch 2: Two children, Child 2 holding a wrapped chocolate biscuit
Child 1: That’s my chocolate biscuit. Mum said I could have it.
Child 2: No, she didn’t. You had yours earlier for snack.
Child 1: No, I didn’t, not that one. I just had an ordinary biscuit.
Child 2: Well, whose fault is that? You were allowed the chocolate one. You obviously didn’t choose it.
Child 1: Give me the biscuit . . . (a tussle ensues)
Sketch 3: Child and Mum
Child: Mum, you said you’d take me to the park to play football.
Mum: Yes, I did, but it’s pouring.
Child: But you promised.
Mum: I know, but it’s pouring! There’s no point in getting soaked. We’ll have to wait till the rain stops.
Child: That’s not fair! It always rains in the holidays. Bah!
Does any of this sound familiar? Are we in danger of becoming little Mr Grumbles?
- Tell the following story.
Once upon a time, there was a man who was always grumbling, just like Mr Grumble. He lived in a hot, dusty country where people wore long, loose clothes and open sandals. One day, after travelling some distance in the blazing sunshine, his feet were sore.
‘Look at my sandals! They’re nearly worn out and I’ve got no money for a new pair,’ he grumbled. ‘Bah, it’s not fair!’
That day, he went to church to say his prayers. There was a man kneeling beside him who was also praying, his long clothes covering all of his kneeling body.
‘Huh,’ thought the grumbling man, ‘he looks as if he has plenty of money. Lucky old him! I bet he has loads of pairs of shoes at home.’
When the service ended, two men approached the kneeling man and helped him up.
As the grumbling man watched, he realized that the man’s feet were twisted and he couldn’t walk without help.
Suddenly, the grumbling man realized that there were many people who were much worse off than he was.
Time for reflection
How do you think the grumbling man felt? Do you think this event would have changed him?
Ask the children to think about their day so far: have they already grumbled today?
Explain that you are going to read out a list of complaints that you have heard in school. After each one, you would like the children to come up with a positive comment or thought that might stop them complaining.
Complaint: I’m hungry.
Possible positive comment: We’re so fortunate to have food available to us. There are many people who suffer from terrible hunger throughout the world.
Complaint: I don’t want to do my homework.
Possible positive comment: Many children in the world are unlikely ever to learn to read or write. This means that they will not be able to get good jobs and get out of the cycle of poverty. We are fortunate to have a good education.
Complaint: I’m always last in running races – it’s not fair.
Possible positive comment: All of us have different skills and talents; all of us are amazing.
Challenge the children to try to say positive things for the rest of the day.
Thank you for all that we have that makes our lives so good.
Thank you for shelter, health, family, clothing, food, education, water, nature . . . and so many other things.
We are sorry that we grumble at times.
Teach us to be grateful and thankful people.