With Thanksgiving only a few days away, it reminds us of everything we are grateful and thankful for. But what about the rest of the year? It’s really easy to forget when we’re buffered by our many comforts. Our children especially don’t know much about gratitude, unless we teach them.

How can we emphasize to our children the importance of being thankful

Our little ones are like sponges, they soak everything up they see and hear. If you give them something to model after they will follow suit. Gratitude rubs off on your kids. You’ll notice they’ll say phrases like, “I’m so glad we have these crayons to color with.”

And watch how you complain about first-world problems. Sure, it’s fine to vent, but follow it up with something you’re grateful for: “Darn, the hot water is off today! Oh well, at least we have water coming in at all with the cold water.

Don’t give your kids too many toys

Giving your kids too many toys has downsides, including appreciating what they have. When you have fifty teddy bears, how special can each one be?

Instead, limit the toys you give. Donate or sell the ones they’ve outgrown. Give your kids “experience” gifts with invaluable memories without the feelings of leftover toys.

Introduce your children to different lives

It’s no wonder travel is one of the best teachers out there. When you witness different worlds, you return home grateful for all you have. The same applies to kids who’ve lived in different countries or even cities.

Granted, we’re all not able to travel, much less regularly or live as a local for an extended period of time. Instead, try these ideas:

  • Read books about people’s differences, cultures and uniqueness.
  • Encourage a variety of friends.
  • Volunteer at local food banks, pet shelters and non-profit events.
  • Share family stories about perseverance.
  • Get involved with community events.

Write thank you cards

No matter the age, involve your child in acknowledging the people who have given them gifts.

Get tips on how to make writing thank you cards a fun activity.

Create a tradition of what you’re thankful for

Thanksgiving is a great opportunity to start traditions and teach gratitude. That might mean playing a game of “What are you thankful for” with your  family. Everyone can guess who wrote what. Draw a tree on a poster or make a wreath and write your thanks on leaves and glue them on. Maybe every night is a tradition of giving thanks as each person says what they’re grateful for.

Your turn: How do you teach gratitude to your children? Let me know in the comments!