How to Get Your Child to Write Thank-You Notes
It is never too early to teach a child to say “thank you.” Gratitude is a core life lesson and when children learn this skill at an early age, it’s a building block for the development of other manners. Studies have also found that learning courtesy and gratitude early on can build strong character and help kids develop good relationships. Writing thank you notes is an easy practice that you can teach your child, and you can start thinking about it as soon as you send out their first birthday invitations.
The Benefits of Saying “Thank You”
One way to help children understand the importance of an activity is simply to explain the benefits. A thank you note can be even more meaningful than an in-person “thank you” (although that is also important). Talk to your kid about how a written thank you note takes time and effort, shows that you have gone out of your way to write something special, and demonstrates how much you appreciate the person you’re thanking. Here are some other reasons kids should write thank you notes:
- Emotional Skill Development: Emotional development is important especially for young children. Emotional skills have an impact on many aspects of childhood and help improve teamwork, develop long-lasting friendships, and increase confidence. All good things for your kid and the people around them.
- Learn to Value Belongings: It is important for your child to learn to value their belongings, as this can lead to them to understand the value in other things. For instance, if your child does not appreciate gifts they receive, their expectation for future gifts may never be satisfied.
- Learn to Live With Others: If you teach your child to say thank you, it fosters maturity and empathy for others. When they learn this early, it can influence them later on in life and effect how they value friendships and relationships. Friendships will affect a multitude of other aspects in your child’s life so it is important to make sure your child knows from an early age how important it is to appreciate and thank friends for all they do.
Ready to write your thank you notes? Here are some pointers.
Brainstorm What to Say Together
Children should be the ones to come up with the contents of their thank you cards, however, they might benefit with a little help from you to brainstorm. In addition to referencing best practices in thank you card wording, talk to your child about ways we can express our gratitude:
- Include thoughts about the person to show them this isn’t just a generic thank you note and make sure they know your child thought about them as they wrote their thank you.
- Include what they liked about the gift. Explain what makes it useful to them and why they are thankful for it.
- Explain how they have used the gift. This can show genuine appreciation as it expresses and demonstrates the usefulness of the gift received.
Discuss When to Send Thank You Notes
When you create situational circumstances for children, it can help them associate it with a certain action. Discuss with your kids what types of gifts and events you expect them to send a thank you for. For instance, ask your kids to write thank you notes for holiday or birthday gifts, or when they receive online birthday invitations to a party they cannot attend. This can help them understand the gratitude they should feel when someone sends them an invitation and wants to celebrate with them.
Remember Specific Details
Specific details turn a good thank you note into a great one. Ask your kid to use descriptive language when they write thank you notes. For example, “thank you for the beautiful big red playmat” is more personal than “thank you for the playmat.” This helps to build the connection between your child and the recipient. The basic requirement here is to include something that demonstrates thought and care has been put into the thank you note, and that your child has thought about the recipient while they wrote it.
Provide a Template
It may be helpful to provide kids with a thank you note template to follow. Kids may be less overwhelmed if they have some guidelines for this project. When you choose virtual thank you cards, you can easily help your child through the process. Online cards often include sample text that kids can edit to make their own, or you can provide them with some instruction. Here is an example of what a thank you card wording template might look like:
- Begin with an expression of thanks to the giver and name what you are thankful for
- Explain what it means to you or how you plan to use it
- Say something nice and thoughtful about the giver
- Repeat your thanks
Thank you so much for the beautiful tea set. I can't wait to use it for my dolls. You are so thoughtful and I love spending time at your house. Thank you for the gift!
Lead by Example
Kids do as you do, not as you say. If you make an effort and diligently send thank you notes, your child is more likely to do so as well. Read up on thank you note do’s and don’ts, make sure you understand thank you note etiquette, and remember to think about the following.
- Clarity: It is important that when you write a thank you note the message you send is clear. Make sure that you check for grammar and spelling before you are finished.
- Tone: Keep the tone of your message appropriate for the relationship you have with the person you plan to send the thank you to. This can mean having your note be humorous, light, or very personal depending on the recipient. If you aren’t sure about how the tone sounds, put your note aside for an hour or two and come back and read it with fresh eyes.
- When is it necessary?: Whenever you have the instinct to send a thank you, do it. Thank people in your life for favors, support, and any gift (except a thank-you gift).
Sending thank you cards is an important life skill and a practical way to help your child express gratitude. So open the laptop, and start practicing together!
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