Thank-you Notes and Your Child
The Art of Cultivating Gratitude from an Early Age
There’s a school of thought that believes gratitude shouldn’t be forced; and writing thank-you notes is well, frankly, a thankless job anyway. I mean, look at the amount of time you spend putting pen to paper and licking stamps when you could be playing with that awesome Xbox game you got for your Confirmation or shopping for clothes with the money Aunt Ethel gave you for your birthday. There’s another school of thought (and it’s a dying breed) that believes writing thank-you notes is the least you can do for someone who’s been kind enough to think of you and buy you a gift.
So what happens if you subscribe to the second school of thought and your child throws in his lot with the first? At this stage, you can do one or more of the following things:
For her birthday, my daughter received cash, iTunes gift cards, a robotic puppy, Penguins of Madagascar advance tickets and loads of goodies from friends and family members. But since all good things come with a price tag, I refused to let her spend the cash, use the gift cards or play with the toys until all presents were properly acknowledged and their givers thanked with handwritten notes. Project Thank-you Notes was wrapped up within a week. Nothing like a great incentive system to get the job done!
Be a role model
My husband balked at the thought of writing his way through dozens of thank-you notes for our anniversary party, but he gritted his teeth and did it anyway because it was the polite, the adult thing to do. Now he takes the high moral ground each time the kids rebel so they are forced to come out of their cave and show their appreciation for people’ s kindness and generosity. And that, in my opinion, is the best reason to model the behavior you want your kids to emulate. If you don’t, do you think THEY will?
Let the kids have fun
Writing thank-you notes can become a cumbersome chore all too quickly. I suggest you make the process fun and creative and that’s not as impossible as it sounds. Your five-year-old may be no Picasso but he can definitely scribble a cute message on a card for Grandma. If you allow him to pick out the stationary, use pretty stickers and a special pen, heck, he might even look forward to showing off his artistic talents! Not to mention his gracious manners, just like the grown-ups.
All in all, writing thank-you notes is a habit that must find its rightful place in our lives if we do not want to raise a generation of ungrateful adults.
Printable Thank You Cards for Kids
Younger children can use printable Fill-in-the-blank Thank You Cards. When my children were just learning how to write, I would very lightly write in the words for them and then they would trace over my letters. This was a good way to get them started early with good habits and allowed them to practice their penmanship. As they grew older, I would print off Themed Thank You Cards for them or allow them to select stationary that fit their personality.
Image: “Thank you note for you”; by woodleywonderworks, licensed under CC BY 22.0