- Be a role model. As with many other behaviors children learn best by watching the examples set by parents. Showing children how to be grateful is much more powerful than simply telling children to be grateful. Let your children hear you expressing gratitude to others.
- Tell your children thank you. Ellie, from the Musing Momma blog, writes, "Much like 'give respect to be respected,' children learn to appreciate by being appreciated. Thank your child for clearing the table, for playing nicely with his little sister, for waiting patiently while you finish a phone call. Thank him for just being a downright awesome kid. Show him how it feels to be appreciated and have his effort recognized, what gratitude sounds like, and how easily it can be a part of daily life."
- Thank you notes. Writing thank you cards may seem old fashioned, but when children write thank you notes they will understand the importance of recognizing and acknowledging kind acts or gifts they have received. They will also be less likely to take the gift for granted.
- Let kids help out. Jenny from the blog, Mamatoga, says, "The more children contribute around the house, the more they realize how much effort it takes to keep a household running. Giving your child age-appropriate chores like setting the table or feeding a pet (or for teenagers, working a part-time job) will help them appreciate that these tasks require effort and don’t just happen automatically. They will also feel the satisfaction of earning what they have and making a valuable contribution to the family."
- Incorporate gratitude into everyday life. When I was going through a particularly rough patch in my life a couple of years ago, my mom suggested we send each other an email every night with 10 things we were grateful for that had happened that day. Surprisingly, it made a huge difference and put me in a much happier mindset than I had been in before; I looked forward to those nightly emails. While Thanksgiving is the most popular day for giving thanks, don't let gratitude only be shown on this one day of the year. Have children keep a gratitude journal or every night at dinner go around the table and have each member of the family share something they are grateful for that day.
- Read Thanksgiving books. Many children learn certain concepts best (such as gratitude) by reading picture books. Read one of these fun Thanksgiving picture books with your children.
- Give back and volunteer. Volunteering is a great way to inspire children to be thankful. When children have the opportunity to experience another's gratitude, they will recognize and be grateful for the things that they have. This can be accomplished in several ways: donating clothes to a local thrift store, buying and donating a toy for children in need, or something as simple as baking cookies and taking them to the neighbors. There are so many fun ways to get your children involved in service.
- Practice saying no. This means not giving your child everything she wants. This can be very hard at times, especially when your child is looking at you with big puppy dog eyes begging for a new toy. Just remember if you do not give her everything she asks for, she will be more appreciative of the things she does receive.
- Thankful Turkey Box. If you are looking for a fun way to show what you are thankful for this Thanksgiving, click here to make this cute turkey box. Everyday have each member of your family write down something they are thankful for. On Thanksgiving, open the box as a family and read everything you're grateful for.