Happenness for kids – The Birth of Thankful Force

A little while ago I pondered the question, “How do I teach my kids to choose to be happy and enjoy the journey, even when they don’t feel like it?”

Figure that since this is a life long challenge, they might as well get a head start… so here’s a little bit about the game we now play to teach this concept.


Decided that to teach the concept, it needed to be fun and be something that they could remind each other of (my two kids are aged 4 & 6 years old, so it needed to relate to them).

It also needed to put the focus on the attitude choice and not the circumstance… also, my kids love super heroes and beating villains (what awesome material to work with).

But for the full effect of how this started, I’ll share the sales pitch…


Thankful Force begins…

It was Sunday morning and it was evident that the choice of happiness was waning a little [insert whining kid noises here].

I sat down with the kids and asked them if they wanted to join an elite team of special agents who could help defeat a nasty super villain.

They both eagerly agreed to be my special agents… the plan was working.

But this super villain, who was he? I told them that this super villain was out to take away fun and spoil things, that he was sneaky and persistent and had to be stopped. At this point they were nervous, a little scared (maybe my pitch was a little too effective) and asked who this villain was.

Then I revealed that this super villain was Grumpy and that he could hang around and take away fun from anyone decided to be grumpy with him – but he could be defeated simply by a Thankful Force agent because they had a secret weapon.

As you can imagine, the kids were very eager to find out what this secret weapon was and maybe you are too, so in my next post…. just kidding, I’ll keep going and share the rest of the story…

So I told them this secret weapon was their smile and if Villain Grumpy saw smiling, he would get very nervous, his knees would shake and he would run (maybe or maybe not they got a demonstration of how hard it is to run with shaky knees – but since there is no photographic evidence, you may never know).

At this the kids were hooked, they had the weapon to beat Grumpy, they became and still are 2 of the best agents Thankful Force has ever had… Grumpy’s days are numbered!

Later that day, my son asked a very good question. “Dad, is Grumpy real?”, and then in a flash of brilliance, I answered, “Only if you make him so. The only power grumpiness has is from you choosing to let it stay.”

All of this was a couple of months ago now and our Thankful Force game lives on. They’ve got their cousin involved, have asked if they can tell a few of their friends about Thankful Force and ask them to join too. I am amazed once again, at powerful it is to make simple choices to overcome circumstances with a simple choice to smile when you don’t feel like it and make today the day that you want it to be. So the call goes out, “Thankful Force agents, we have a mission!” (at this call, a Thankful Force agent know to run to whoever issued the call and enthusiastically embrace the challenge ahead).

Just a final word of advice to Grumpy… if you’re out there, watch out! Thankful Force is coming to get you and the victory will be ours



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