What child doesn’t love getting gifts? What if kids approached writing thank-you notes for those gifts with the same love?
Learning to write thank-you notes can be fun, and it’s something kids of any age can do. First, a few points about thank-you note etiquette:
• Your child should acknowledge every gift, no matter how small, with a thank-you note. Some parents feel that this expression of gratitude should always be in the form of a handwritten note. Others feel a verbal thank-you message is OK if the person giving the gift is present when the child opened the gift. You’ll need to decide which approach you want to follow in your family.
• Write and promptly mail thank-you notes within a few days of receiving gifts. How do you get your kids interested in the art of the thank-you note? Start with a positive attitude. If you nag your kids to do it, they’ll approach writing thank-you notes as something to dread.
“I think the main reason kids ought to write thank-you notes is that grateful people are happy people,” says Raffi Bilek, a family therapist and director of the Baltimore Therapy Center, in a Postable article. “Gratitude is a key factor in enduring, long-term happiness. Training our children to appreciate what they have and what they receive is an important way to instill this trait in them.”
Learn what you can do to give your kids some encouragement:
• Keep thank-you notes short. The notes don’t need to be elaborate to be effective. If your child spends an entire morning writing one, he’ll run out of steam before he gets to the others.
• Make it fun. Use colored papers, stickers, stamps, crayons, colored pencils, sequins and other craft-store objects to turn an ordinary thank-you note into something extraordinary.
• Help your child understand the reasons for writing in the first place. You might talk to your child about how Aunt Pat spent time looking for just the right pair of roller skates so that her niece can enjoy them. Ask your child to think about a time when she gave a gift to someone. How did she feel when she got a thank you back?
• Make thank-you note writing something the family can do together. Children follow by example. Sit down at the kitchen table and write your own thank-you notes so that your child can see how important expressing gratitude is to you. Offer help if your child gets stuck.
Thank-You Note Tips
Younger Kids (Ages 3 to 7)
• Young children can put the fun into thank-you cards. For example, you can snap and print a photo of your son wearing the new baseball cap he got from his grandparents. Ask him to make a drawing or two on the photo.
• If your child knows how to write, have him use a pen or marker to write “thank you” on the photo or on a note card you can tuck into an envelope with the photo.
Older Kids (Ages 8 and older)
• Teach your child the basic parts of a thank-you note: a greeting to the person who gave the gift, the body containing details thanking the person for the gift and mentioning how her or she likes the gift or will use it, and a sign-off with your child’s name.
• Children might get intimated by finding the right words to say. Encourage your kids to use the words that are natural to them so that the message comes from the heart.
• Make writing thank-you notes part of a daily routine. Leave blank cards or paper where your child is most likely to see them, such as on a bedside table or a bedroom desk.
All basic thank-you notes have the following parts:
Greeting: This line contains the word “Dear” followed by the name of the person who gave your child the gift.
Body: The body of the thank-you note can be a few short sentences. In the body, have your child acknowledge the gift and express to the gift giver. You may want to encourage your child to write a sentence or two about why he or she likes the gift or appreciates the gift giver’s thoughtfulness.
Closing: Sign off with “love,” “thinking of you” or other appropriate words.