altAs Thanksgiving approaches, it seems as if we are bombarded with an urgency to encourage thankfulness in our children.

Like a crash course in algebra, we try to cram review, new lessons and practical applications into a short time, in hopes that our children will recall what they’ve learned throughout the year. While no time teaching our children to be thankful is wasted, when we encourage thankfulness in our children year round they are best served.

As you are focused on increasing your child’s attitude of gratitude this season, consider these 5 ways to encourage thankfulness year round.

1. Take time to give thanks at dinner

At dinner, take turns pointing out something that you are grateful for that day. “I’m thankful when I forgot my lunch, daddy brought it to me.” Children learn by doing and what they do consistently, they’ll do more often.

2. Create a thankful place in your home

Hang a cork or magnetic board in a visible spot in the kitchen and encourage family members to post what they’re thankful for. Younger children can draw pictures or get help cutting out photos from discarded magazines. Once a week, get together to clear the board and share what everyone has been thankful for that week.

3. Model thankfulness

If you want to raise thankful kids, be a thankful parent. Let your children hear you expressing thanks regularly. From saying a simple “Thank you” to the stranger that holds the door, to pulling your child aside and thanking him for playing nicely with his sibling will go a long way in cultivating an attitude of thankfulness.

4. Encourage the writing of thank you notes

Encourage your children to write thank you notes for birthday and holiday gifts. Teaching them that every gift or kind gesture is deserving of a thank you note is a life lesson they’ll be grateful to learn. Even the youngest children can draw a picture or write their name with help.

5. Help those who have less

Realizing how much we have can help foster an attitude of thankfulness. Encourage your children to donate their gently used toys and clothes to children in need. Get involved in supporting a charity you are passionate about. A reminder of how much we have can naturally quicken our minds and hearts to be thankful.

Giving thanks doesn’t always come naturally to children.  By encouraging them to be thankful children, they’ll naturally become thankful adults.

How do you encourage thankfulness in your own home? What to you do to encourage an attitude of gratitude in your children?