1. Start a thankfulness ritual. At dinner, breakfast or just before bed have each family member share three things that made them happy, or that they're thankful for.
2. Track your gratitude. Doing this creatively can make your efforts more focused and fun.
- Keep a family gratitude journal. Decorate a spiral notebook
where everyone can write or draw things they appreciate. Choose a day (perhaps Thanksgiving) to read all the entries aloud.
- Create a gratitude jar. Place a glass jar alongside colorful strips of paper and fun pens on your kitchen table. Family members can deposit their gratitude ideas in the jar. (Or, alternatively, hang them on a tree branch.) Invite visiting family and friends to contribute as well. When the jar is full, read them to one another, and then make the strips into a paper chain. Hang the chain from your kitchen ceiling or along a window.
- Cover a window or wall with sticky notes, each expressing appreciation for something.
3. Focus on thank-yous. Encourage your children to write notes, not just for presents, but also for the people who make a difference in their lives - teachers, coaches, babysitters, bus drivers, etc.
4. Model gratitude. Compliment the chef when you have a nice meal out, express gratitude to a friend who lends a hand, thank your spouse for cleaning the bathroom, and express appreciation for that crazy, mild winter. Especially thank your children when they do something you appreciate. You'll you notice them following your example.
5. Slow down. This is probably the most difficult step, but it's hard to be grateful if you're rushing around. Take time to realize how much you appreciate the things one might easily take for granted - clean water from the tap, the smell of a flower, a warm house, a new pair of shoes. Express your thankfulness out loud so your children become attuned to the value of gratitude for everyday wonders.