Each day, I am grateful for what I’ve been given in life. I know that I have been greatly blessed.

But my sincere hope is that how I live my life will directly impact how my children choose to live theirs, that someday they will appreciate all they have, and continue on a path similar to my own.

Instilling these virtues in our children is not without challenge, as despite a parent’s best intentions, it’s “normal” for kids to be more self-centered in their behavior. So, what can we do to teach children gratitude, while letting them grow and come into their own? Here are some ideas to help them along.

#1 Volunteer together. What better way to show your kids how fortunate they are than to help out those in need? Donate your family’s time to a soup kitchen. Go through old toys and give them to an organization that will donate them to someone in need. Adopt a family over the holidays and let the kids help shop for the items you’re contributing. Take the time to show your children that not everyone has what they do. Be cognizant of how you approach the conversation, though. While your kids may have more than others, it’s important they understand this makes them no better than anyone else. Some adults could heed this advice, as well.

#2 Offer praise, not presents. A trip to the store is not reason enough to walk out with a new toy, no matter how good a child’s behavior. Teach your children to take pride in themselves through hard work. The worth of a dollar will prove far more valuable to them, and to you, if things aren’t consistently handed to them.

#3 Make memories. Start a new bedtime ritual and ask each family member to write down something they’re grateful for that day. Share the responses, then place them in a jar to be recalled at a later date. It leaves your children with positive thoughts before they drift off to sleep and provides your family with a treasured keepsake for years to come.

#4 Give thanks, just because. Encourage your child to think of someone who’s had a positive impact on their life and offer that person thanks. They could draw them a picture, write a thank you card, or for the older kids — create a video message. How it’s done doesn’t matter, as long as their reasoning is clear. It gives your child an opportunity to think beyond him or herself and will prove a bright spot in someone else’s day.

#5 Promote altruism. Ask your child to do something for someone else with no expectation of a reward. They could rake the leaves for an elderly neighbor or bake cookies to leave for the mail carrier. They could set the table without being asked or simply offer up a hug to a sibling, just because. Make it a family goal to each do something once a day, for someone else, no matter how little the deed. Sometimes even the smallest actions speak the loudest and result in the greatest return.

#6 Practice what you preach. Life isn’t always fair and it certainly isn’t always easy. But life always gives you something to be grateful for, no matter how trying it sometimes seems. So, the next time things don’t go quite as you had planned, find that silver lining, that reason to be thankful. It’s in those moments, and with those actions, that your children may understand you best.

Jamie Buss is parenting columnist. Do you have a parenting topic you’d like to see covered? Email Jamie at rocparenting@gmail.com. You can also follow her on Twitter @jamielbuss.