4 ways to make gratitude part of your kids' regular routine

/ Source: TODAY Contributor

Check back with TODAY Parents every day for a new tip on starting the school year off right. Today's topic: Everyday mindfulness for parents and kids.

Entitlement seems to have hit epidemic proportions with kids, and today’s parents are seriously looking for answers. One big step to help stave off the “I wants” is to steer your children to better appreciate what they already have.

Want to teach kids gratitude? Start by modeling it in genuine ways every day.Soloviova Liudmyla / Shutterstock

Here are four great ways to make gratitude part of your family’s routine:

  1. Start the day on the right foot. I know mornings are crazy, but there are moments of clarity as you’re doling out breakfast, signing homework or sitting in car lines where you can add the practice of saying, “What are you looking forward to today?” Even if it’s “recess,” getting kids focused on what could go RIGHT in the day rather than what can go wrong is powerful. You can add phrases like, “I’m looking forward to trying a new recipe tonight for you guys!” Or, “I can’t wait to watch your soccer practice later! What are you excited about today?”
  2. Put service in your schedule. Taking the time for service work is empowering and reminds kids how good they have it. Maybe helping an elderly neighbor, volunteering at a local food bank or even donating some time at a shelter would be a good fit. Brainstorm with your kids and try one idea per month.
  3. Share the silver linings. If your kids melt down over having meatloaf for dinner or fuss about football practice, then it’s time to put silver linings in their lives. For example, next time your weekend gets rained out, try, “Well, at least we don’t have to wash the car now!” Or when your kid’s bus doesn’t show up, try, “That gives us more time together in the car today!” We can find either blessings or frustrations in every moment. Help your kids see the bright side.
  4. Be heard. Want to teach kids gratitude? Start by modeling it in genuine ways every day. That means letting your kids HEAR you giving thanks. When someone holds a door, a cashier is kind or the waiter is attentive, say “thank you” — out loud. Eventually, your kids will do the same and it will be amazing to see them go out of THEIR way to make someone ELSE’S day.

Follow TODAY Parents' 14-day calendar for a tip a day on getting the new school year off to a healthy, happy start.

Looking for more ways to raise grateful, compassionate and respectful kids? Check out Amy’s new book, The “Me, Me, Me” Epidemic - A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Capable, Grateful Kids in an Over-Entitled World. To learn more visit www.amymccready.com.