I don't remember when or why it started (it probably involved a fair bit of sarcasm on my part), but I've gotten into the habit of getting my kids to tell me how awesome I am. No, wait. That didn't sound right.
At some point I must have given them something they liked a lot. Like ice cream for dessert or some such, and they all exploded with happiness and said I was awesome. It's not like they'd never said anything like that before, but for some reason that particular time it stuck. So the next time they were happy with something, they said thank you and I made them repeat after me: "Thanks Mom you're awesome!"
It was mostly as a joke about my own perceived self-importance, and I had a big goofy grin on my face as I made them repeat it, and they took it very much in that spirit, with their own goofy grins.
I thought it was cute, and we kept doing it until it became a habit. And the funny thing is, after a while it became something they started feeling. And that something was real, genuine gratitude.
I know, right? Kids who express gratitude. How rare is that these days? So I've decided to encourage other kids I know to express the same feelings to their parents (oh yeah, because it works with dads, too). And man, those kids, they sure put up a fight. I mean, they flat-out refuse to say it, even when I'm making a big goofy joke out of it. Many times the other parents look at me like I'm from Planet X28, which is the part I find really depressing.
I keep at it, though, because I have now come to see how important it is to make kids express their gratitude out loud (even if it's somewhat half-hearted). If you never make them say it, they'll never get used to saying it. And they may stop feeling it altogether. And then where will you be?
I even tell the kids in so many words: You should really learn to say stuff like that to your mom. You have no idea how much more willing she'll be to do nice things for you if she knows you appreciate it and are able to verbalize your appreciation. It's in your own self-interest, kiddo! So far, so very meh.
But my kids get fun stuff, including a great batch of chocolate donuts that are super popular in our house despite the fact that they are annoyingly healthy. You can find the recipe here, if you're interested. Then make your kids tell you how awesome you are. Don't forget your goofy grin.