One of the easiest ways for children to express thanks is through a simple, handwritten note. Unfortunately, the ability and desire to write thank you notes is becoming a lost art.
When we encourage our kids to routinely verbalize their gratitude, we teach them that saying thank you is a worthwhile habit—hopefully one that will stay with them. Follow these tips to simplify the process of writing thank you notes and teach your children to appreciate both the gifts they are given and the individuals who have given them.
1 Say thank you yourself.
If you treat thank you notes as an obligation, your kids will see them that way, too. Instead, emphasize the importance of letting others know how much you appreciate their thoughtful gestures. Get in the habit of writing thank you notes yourself, and you will find that your children are more receptive to the idea of writing their own.
2 Make the notes age-appropriate.
Young children who are just learning to write may not be able to compose long, eloquent letters, but they can draw pictures or sign their name. One fun way to cut the amount of writing required is to include a picture of your child with the gift he has received.
3 Keep stationary and art supplies on hand.Designate a special thank you note box where your family stores supplies, so you are less likely to procrastinate (and then forget entirely). If you allow your kids to decorate their notes with stamps and glitter, they may be more enthusiastic.
4 Break up the work. Active children rarely want to sit and write for hours, so avoid working on lots of notes all at once. Instead, plan several short sessions over a week or two. Make it fun by enjoying a special treat while you work.
5 Participate in the process. Even older children are likely to need help clarifying their thoughts. Ask to see what they plan to write and offer constructive criticism. Emphasize neatness for the final copy. Yes, the kids may whine, but they will improve their writing, editing and penmanship skills.
6 Send notes through the mail.
Many of today’s students are leaving school without ever learning how to correctly address a letter. Insisting on thank you notes is a great way to ensure that your child isn’t one of them.Writing thank you notes doesn’t have to be as difficult as we make it out to be, and it’s a great way to teach our children an attitude of gratitude. Now is the perfect time to share this valuable skill with your child—and maybe get back into the habit yourself.
Alyssa Chirco writes about parenting and family life for publications across the country. She thanks her own mother for teaching her the art of writing thank you notes at a young age.
January is National Thank You Month
A new year is a great time to focus on expressing gratitude! Here are a few ways to get started:
- Have your kids recall all the gifts they received over
the holidays, then write thank you notes to the friends
and family who were kind enough to remember them.
- Search for veterans’ organizations or community helpers
like police and firefighters in your area. Help your kids
write notes thanking these individuals for their service.
- Instead of sending out your family’s holiday cards during
the hectic month of December, try mailing “New Year
Notes” in January. Include a family photo if you like, but
focus on letting recipients know how grateful you are
for their presence in your lives.