Sometimes when we have a problem, the natural instinct is to complain about it. Demonstrate the immediate result of complaining with a can of squeeze cheese. Have someone to squeeze some cheese out, and then ask them how easy it was. Next, have someone try to put the cheese back into the can, which is impossible. Explain that when we have a bad attitude, our angry words can slip out easily and affect the attitudes of others. It's not easy to take back what we say. Instead, we should be optimistic and weigh our words carefully. Serve cheese and crackers, if you wish.
Pebbles and Candy
Give each family member a piece of candy and also a pebble to put in his or her shoe. Go for a walk around the neighborhood. After the walk, discuss the experience. Most will dwell on the pain the pebble caused and some may mention the sweet taste of the candy. Explain that sometimes we focus too much on small troubles (pebbles) and forget about the good parts of life (candy). Talk about the importance of an optimistic attitude.
Fill a jar half full with clean water. Start a story about a family and how the mom started out the day a little down; and add a couple of drops of yellow food coloring to the water. Then include the oldest brother's "red fury" because of problems at school (adding red drops), the little sister's "green with envy" because of friend's new clothes, and the dad's "blue brood" because he came home and dinner wasn't ready. Show children the dirty water, then retell story, changing people's attitudes and adding drops of bleach to make the water clear again.
Optimism in the Annex
Anne Frank was a young girl who displayed consistent optimism even in the face of extreme danger. While hiding with her family from the Nazis, she always looked on the bright side of things. She wrote about her family's hiding place, called the Annex, in her diary, calling it "an ideal place to hide in." She wrote, "It may be damp and lopsided, but there's probably not a more comfortable hiding place in all of Amsterdam. No, in all of Holland."
The Annex was the place that her family hid in for twenty-five months! They did not step foot outside the Annex once during those two years, yet Anne never complained. Her family was also forced to remain completely still from 8:30 A.M. to 6:30 P.M. every day so that no one outside the Annex would hear creaking from the floorboards and discover their hiding place, and yet Anne still remained happy and jovial.
She and all members of her family did not move for up to ten hours each day in order to remain undetected, and yet she wrote in her journal that the Annex was "a little piece of blue heaven, surrounded by heavy black rain clouds." She remained optimistic and patient, reminding all of us that attitude is a choice.
When the time comes that someone we know is in need, it's important to be helpful and reliable. Being reliable not only means helping others when tough times hit, it also means answering the call, looking for several solutions, being prompt, and remaining consistent in your efforts. When we are reliable, we are more trusted and more responsible. Teach your family to be reliable with these object lessons and story.
We Can't Do it Alone
Give a family member a comb and ask him to brush his hair. Only, he can't bend his elbows while trying. It's nearly impossible to brush your hair with straight arms. Then, give the comb to another family member and ask her to brush the other person's hair. Now it's possible to do. Discuss how some people cannot do things for themselves and they must rely on others to help them. For example, our ancestors must rely on us to do their temple work. List several ways we can be reliable for others.
We All Play a Part
Put the following ingredients in a Ziploc bag: 4 cups powdered sugar, 3 ounces softened cream cheese, 1/2 cup softened margarine, 1/2 cup cocoa, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 1/2 cup chopped nuts. Pass the bag to each child while discussing the characteristics of reliability and have him or her squish the contents of the bag continually. Liken reliability to an ingredient in the mix; the recipe would not taste the same without that ingredient, just like others would not be able to depend on someone to get a task done if they were not reliable. Now enjoy a tasty family home evening treat!
Let There Be Light
Find a dark room and unscrew the light bulb in that room. Have the children stand at the door and give them thirty seconds to find something you've hidden in the room. Afterward, ask them if the object would have been easier to find had the light been working. Explain that reliability is like the light: When one person does his or her job, others can do their jobs too. If the light had been working, it would have been easier for them to find the hidden item.
The Stripling Warriors
After the Lamanites were converted by the sons of Mosiah, they wanted to repent of their murders, so they buried their weapons and covenanted with God to never shed blood again. They were renamed the Anti-Nephi-Lehies.
Soon, a group of wicked Lamanites wanted to start a war with the Anti-Nephi-Lehies, but they had promised not to fight and were in danger of dying. However, their sons, who were too young to make the covenant, decided to go to battle against the wicked Lamanites. These were Helaman's two thousand stripling warriors.
These young men are described as "exceedingly valiant for courage, and also for strength and activity; but behold, this was not all--they were men who were true at all times in whatsoever thing they were entrusted" (Alma 53:20). Being true to their standards, the stripling warriors were trusted, respected, and reliable. Because of their integrity and courage, their families and people could rely on them to fight in the war.
The Anti-Nephi-Lehies were saved because the young soldiers. They fought with miraculous strength and not one of the stripling warriors were killed.