As a child, I can remember my Nana telling my sister and I that thank-you notes were an obligation and practically hovering over us as we begrudgingly completed this undesirable chore. I’m sure we robotically scribbled out something along the lines of “Thank you for the (description of gift here). We really appreciate it.”. It can be hard for children to understand the importance of a thank-you note and how to make it meaningful and sincere. It wasn’t until I received a heart-felt thank you note myself that I realized what an impact they can have and the true purpose for giving them.
As parents it is important to not only teach and model a sense of gratitude for our children but to make it a regular practice. Identifying that which we are thankful for and knowing what it is to feel thankful provides the basis for expressing thanks to others for their gifts or kind gestures. So what does a meaningful thank-you note include and how do we help our children find the words to express the specialness of the gift?
Let’s start with the basics. All thank-you notes should include:
- a greeting
- an expression of thanks
- mention of the specific gift
- a closing with your signature
Meaningful and memorable thank-you notes include:
- mention of feelings that the gift elicited
- an explanation of why it was special
- a statement of how the gift will be used or is being enjoyed
- a compliment or acknowledgement of the giver’s thoughtfulness
Of course, the depth of what the note includes will depend on your child’s age. A drawing depicting the gift by a young child would certainly be appropriate. Pre-writers and beginning writers can dictate what they would like written.
Here are some tips for guiding children in writing thank you notes:
- Make it fun! Set up an invitation with papers, note cards, markers, pens, paints, stamps, envelopes, postage, and an address book. Add interesting embellishments like photos, decorative tapes and stickers. Here are some creative ideas.
- For ages 10 and up, try including this book with the supplies: The Thank You Book for Kids, by Ali Spizman. It was written by a 14 year-old and provides inspiration for creative ways to say thank you.
- Sit down with them to write some of your own. Make it a family time. You’ll be modeling the behavior and will be available for guidance and encouragement.
- Ask questions about why they like the gift and what they like to do with it, what is unique about it and what are some of the special qualities. This will help them identify thoughtful sentiments to include in the note.
- Let children express themselves in their own voice.
I hope this helps set your young ones on a lifetime appreciation for the art of crafting meaningful thank-you notes. Have a wonderful holiday season and a very joyous New Year. Remember, a thankful heart is a happy heart!