No frills parenting is one way I try to teach gratefulness (see the post below). I am a big believer of limiting the "treats" you give children to a minimum so that small things are appreciated. Let me give you some examples of what happens around here.
One thing I have particularly been teased about by other moms is my "no kid's meal except on your birthday" rule. Now, we don't go out to eat very often anyway, but when we do, my kids do not get kid's meals. There are a couple reasons for this. 1. Kids meals are way more expensive than buying a 12 pack and splitting it 4 ways. 2. My kids are almost always required to drink water (we don't do juice, soda, etc...) 3. They think it is the biggest treat when they do get a kid's meal. So, on my child's birthday they can choose anything they want to eat that day which includes one meal at a fast food place where they can order a kid's meal. This is something they look forward to all year long.
Another simple pleasure is riding the escalator at the mall. When I do dare to bring all 4 children with me to the mall, there are certain rules they must follow. If they do exceptionally well, I will let them ride the escalators up and down a couple of times. This is a freebie treat that they love!
T.V. is very limited in our home. If they happen to wake up before I do, they are allowed to watch 1 show in the morning. Other than that, they do not watch any t.v. all day long. So, on days I have a lot to do or we have company over and I need them to be quiet and not make a mess, I let them watch a movie. Since this is such a rare occasion, they are overjoyed and glued to the t.v.
Sweets are almost non-existent here. The only time of year you will see a steady flow of sweets in our home is now. During the Christmas season we have Christmas candy and cookies galore. Still, my children are rarely permitted to partake. Again, this means the times when we do offer them some sweets, we are the coolest, best parents ever!!
Here's a fun one - 2 of my girls share a room and 1 has a room to herself. On nights where 1 of them is spending the night at grandma and grandpa's, we let the other 2 switch the beds they sleep in. I know, it doesn't sound like a treat. But my kids think it is one, so we go with it.
Now, don't get me wrong, I say yes to plenty of things that they enjoy. I actually had to really train myself to only say no when I believed it was for their good. Saying yes often involves a sacrifice from me and I am a lazy sinner. So, I try to think about what they are asking and make sure I have a good reason for saying no before I do. Sometimes the saying no is for the sole purpose of making sure they are grateful no matter what the outcome is.