Does Your Child Write Thank You Notes?

girl writing in notebookWell, somehow we have arrived in January 2015 and are on the other side of all the holiday hoopla. If you are like most families, your child received a number of gifts from friends and family during the last month. In many cases he has probably verbally (sometimes at your prodding) thanked the giver of the gift as the wrapping paper was crushed into a heap while reaching for the next gift.

While verbal thank you’s are an important part of your child’s good manners training, they aren’t necessarily the only tool in a mannerly child’s arsenal. Sending a hand-written thank you note to the giver is a basic way to show gratitude and acknowledge kindness.

Unfortunately, the practice of writing thank you notes seems to be on the decline- not only for children but for adults as well. The simple act of putting one’s gratitude into written words can feel like an onerous chore in our busy, dizzy world- especially if there’s a stack of thank you notes that need to be written. But good manners never go out of style.

So how can you teach your child this gracious art when you, yourself, have trouble finding the time and energy to write thank you notes? In answer, I often like to mention what an awesome job my niece does when it comes to teaching her four kids about the importance of thank you notes.

Each year at their birthday parties the opening of the gifts follows a special routine. The birthday child is seated in the place of honor and opens the gifts one by one. Now, there’s nothing unusual about this. So moving on, once a gift is opened my great-nieces or great-nephews verbally thank the giver of the gift. Nothing unusual there either.

But the next step in the routine is that the gift giver (me, for instance) poses for a photo with the birthday child holding the opened gift, big smiles all around.

Now can you see the wisdom in taking a photo of the child with the gift giver? The photo provides a permanent record of who gave what to the birthday child. There’s no confusion when all the wrapping paper is cleaned up and the party is a fond memory.

The next part of this routine is simple. Within about a week of the party, the gift giver receives a thank you note in the mail. Upon opening the envelope, the photograph taken at gift opening time comes tumbling out, along with a short thank you note.

Depending on the age of the child, the note might be a couple of sentences of thanks written by my niece with added scribbles or drawings by the child. As the toddler grows to a pre-schooler, the painstakingly written signature of the child is added.

Once the child is a bit older, simple words and sentences of thanks written by an emerging learner accompany the special photo. I guarantee that helping your child send this type of thank you note will be so worth the effort. The thank you recipient will walk around with a happy heart and a big smile everytime she thinks of it. And your child will feel the pride of a job well done.

Of course, this is just one method of trying to take the chore out of writing thank you notes. You probably have some great ideas of your own. Just know that no matter what method you use to help your child learn the beauty and power of hand-written thank you notes, you can rest assured that your child is the big winner in this situation.

Learning the social graces and good manners of properly thanking someone is a life lesson that will bode well for your child his entire life. You can rest assured that teaching your child to write thank you notes is a fairly painless way to give a gift to your child that is worth more than all of the latest “must have” items on the store shelf.

In closing, here’s to a world filled with mannerly children- and adults!

Cathie

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