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Teaching Our Children How To Write Good Thank You Notes

November 22, 2009

I’ve been thinking and writing a lot about gratitude this week leading up to Thanksgiving. Also, I’m watching my 8 year daughter write thank you notes from her recent birthday. While many people still practice the custom of writing thank you notes, I’ve noticed that the practice seems to be on the decline. Further, some that my children have received from parties they’ve attended have not been personalized. Some have even gone so far as to put a generic thank you card in with the goodie bags.

I want my children to learn how to write a personalized, heartfelt thank you and to truly feel grateful for what they have received.  So we start working on it from early on.  For their first couple of birthdays, I wrote them myself, but by their third birthday they have been part of the process.  Before they could write, they would draw on or decorate the cards in some way and we would talk about who they were to and what each person had given them.  As their writing skills developed, I have turned over more of the responsibility for writing the cards to them.

My 8 year old still likes to work with a template.  I write out for her on a paper, “Thank you for coming to my party and for the ______. I had lots of fun, and I (something about the gift).”  Then she copies this, filling in the blanks and adding her personal touch. Last year she really got the hang of it and wrote some pretty impressive personalized notes that I know (from their feedback) really touched some of their recipients.  I’m just glancing over some of what she’s written this year, and it seems like she’s still got it.  Here’s an excerpt for example, “Thank you for the scrapbook. It makes me think of my friends.”

Practicing gratitude in this way helps strengthen our relationships.  Not only do we teach our children social skills, but we acknowledge and honor the effort that someone else has made for us. Our children are likely to receive many gifts in the month ahead. It’s an opportunity to teach and practice gratitude.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. November 23, 2009 1:54 pm

    I think this is a fantastic idea! Our twins are still too young, but we try to encourage them to say “thank you” whenever possible. We will let them doodle on the Thank You cards after their next birthday.

  2. Rommy permalink
    December 13, 2009 10:33 am

    I’m so glad to see you encouraging this practice. It is becoming a lost art. As a recipient of one of your daughter’s thank you notes, I can attest to the fact that it warmed my heart and brought me joy. Thanks

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