The Grumbles Game

When I first began intentional table time, our family seemed to consistently encounter one big roadblock—grumbling at the table!

I had to think of something to get past this obstacle… because before you can connect, encourage, or pour into each other as a family, the grumbling attitude has to be dealt with. Stinking thinking can quickly become a habit, souring every meal or routine, and causing tension for everyone.

I am happy to report that after three evenings of doing this game, our table talk cleaned up and we were ready to move on to other connecting activities around the table. Three nights!

Recently, my kids have started grumbling in the mornings. Like as soon as they get up. Argh! If that doesn’t put a damper on a busy mama morning and weigh her down!

So I decided to try the grumbles game in the mornings… because it works.


Does your family grumble at the dinner table? I came up with a game, and after only 3 evenings of playing this game, the grumbling has stopped! Read more for a fun way to stop the grumbling and complaining in your own house!
The goal of this game is to let no unwholesome thing proceed from your mouth, but only what is edifying to the hearer (Ephesians 4:29). This means no complaining, no fighting, no arguing, no sarcasm, no mean comments, no bad words.


Before playing, I remind my kids that refraining from grumbling, complaining, and arguing is what sets a person apart. It makes you shine and sparkle when everyone around you is dull and dark.


We all want to be diamonds. This is how.


Philippians 2:14 says, “Do everything without grumbling and arguing.”


{I don’t know about you but if we could just obey that one scripture, our home life would be much more calm!}


Scripture goes on to say, “In this way, you will be blameless and pure, children of God without blemish, even though you live in a crooked and perverse society, in which you shine as lights in the world.”


Sometimes the bad habit of grumbling starts to creep back in and we need a little help getting our sparkle back.


To play this game, give everyone five clothespins and have them pin them to their clothing. Any time an unwholesome thing is said, the person who first calls it gets to pull one clothespin from the offending person’s shirt and put it in the middle of the table.


The person wearing the most clothespins at the end wins extra dessert at dinner (or some other small prize).


You can make variations of the game to suite your situation. Not only does it make the kids want to keep their clothespins and therefore watch their words, you don’t have to be the task-master to keep everyone in line… they do it for you~ smile!


I hope this one simple game helps clean up your family talk like it has ours! For more great family games and activities, subscribe to this blog and receive the complete The Family Table book FREE. It includes over 40 games and ideas for making the most of your table time. Simply subscribe for updates on the sidebar!

Are your kids driving you crazy with their grumbling and complaining? Here's a fun way to teach them to stop!


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  1. How fun! I had to set rules at my house too. Seems the table becomes the place for someone to tell the other two how life should be done. As you know my momma isn’t a Christian and so I needed to let that other one that he is the Christ we want her to know! She is watching both of us. I blurt out my misgivings and can ask forgiveness but for him it is difficult (mostly a guy/pride thing!)

    So the rule goes that we will make dinner pleasant and comfortable for all who sit at our table!

    Love what you do to encourage Arabah Joy…blessings

  2. Love this. I fear I might have an empty shirt!! I complain more often than I ought! Thanks for reminding me of the importance of doing everything without grumbling and complaining!

  3. This is an awesome idea. I will pass this onto the young mothers I know. The verse you used, Ephesians 4:29, brought back memories when I was raising my two children and working as a house mom to teenage boys. We had to get creative in our discipline and used this verse often for sentence writing. These kids memorized this verse and several others. Thank for sharing this, it brought back some very good memories. I will pass it along. Have a beautiful week! Tammy

  4. hi! I love this idea, but we just tried it out, without success. My ten year old basically manipulated our five year old into complaining. (He brought school work to the table and suggested he get going!haha gotta love the creativity!) and the 5yo wails when he loses. Perhaps we are so deep in grumbleland it will be a difficult climb out the of the pit! Any advice? Next time I will make more of a point to remind them how to shine!

    1. That is too funny Martha! But I know you probably aren’t laughing much :) My kids did try to get their siblings complaining too. So the rule became “if you stir up a brother, you lose a pin.” Also, I really try to get them to compete against themselves if I see they are being too competitive with each other. So I’ll say to each child, “Recently you’ve been complaining about XYZ. Let’s see if you can go the entire dinner without complaining about XYZ.” That way it isn’t a competition per se but a personal challenge. This gets them vested in their own success. Hope that helps. Let me know how you guys do :)

  5. This was so much fun! We just had the most pleasant dinner in a long time. :-) thank you for building us up by sharing this great game! It was so funny for my husband and I to watch eachother, too. Lol. Thanks a bunch. Lots of laughter when things spilled, too!

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