Imagine a world without complaints. In 2006, Will Bowen did just that. Using rubber bracelets as a reminder tool, Bowen started the World Without Complaint movement. By moving the bracelet to the other wrist each time you complain, you increase your awareness of how often you do complain. With children, you can not only increase their awareness of complaining, you can incorporate lessons on gossip and bullying.
People complain. They complain often without being aware of it. In situations where you do not know the people around you well, it's easy to start a conversation based on a complaint - “This grocery store always has the longest lines!” It's an easy, seemingly innocuous way to pass the time. Unfortunately, when complaining is your fallback for communicating your perspective on the world quickly defaults to negative. Kids learn by watching the adults in their lives. While no one knowingly tries to put children into a negative mindset, if that is what they're seeing day-in and day-out, that is what is going to happen.
Pick a month and declare it to be Complaint Free Month. Pass out rubber bracelets to the kids and explain the project. Prepare a note for parents (with rubber bracelets for them as well) encouraging them to join their child. Explain that each time someone complains they are to switch the bracelet to their other wrist. Because complaining is so ingrained have students (and parents) gently remind each other when a complaint goes unnoticed. Along with complaining, ask students to switch their bracelets anytime they catch themselves gossiping or being mean.
Work with your students on alternatives to complaining. Encourage them to find positive ways to express themselves. Instead of “This book is completely stupid,” have them change their thinking to “I am going to ask Miss Smith why it's important to her that we read this book.” You aren't asking kids to pretend to love everything rather, you're helping them find new, positive approaches for handling things they don't like.
This is a fun project that will energize your classroom. Both you and your students will be surprised at the beginning how often you are switching your bracelets. By the end of the month, you'll all be amazed at how rarely you are switching your bracelets. As the project comes to an end, take a vote on whether or not your classroom should remain a complaint free zone. Odds are it will.