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How to Help and Encourage Your Children to Write Thank You Notes

Abby Slutsky is the proud parent of two sons. She describes her parenting style as creative.

When children receive gifts, it is important to teach them to write thank you notes. The earlier they learn that it is expected, the easier it will be to encourage them to write thank you notes as they get older. Even though society is getting very casual (email notes are common), a handwritten thank you note is a positive reflection on parents and their children. Generally, children need to write thank you notes for gifts given for special occasions, such as birthdays, confirmations, bar mitzvahs, Christmas or other major holidays that traditionally encourage gift giving.

Children may enjoy embellishing a note with a picture. Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

Children may enjoy embellishing a note with a picture. Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

Preschoolers and Kindergartners

Usually, preschoolers have not fully developed sufficient fine motor skills to write thank you notes. Although occasionally they can do so earlier, children can often write their names and letters in kindergarten. However, sometimes their writing is difficult to read, and their sentences are very simple and may not have proper punctuation. Some letters are more difficult than others to write, which can also affect their ability to write their names.

Nevertheless, even at these young ages, your child can help write thank you notes. For example, write a simple thank you note for the gift. Then put a line at the bottom, and have your child sign the note himself. Read the note to your child, or let him read it (if he is able) so that he knows that he is thanking someone for a gift. If desired, sometimes you can find thank you notes designed for young children that have a preprinted thank you sentences with a line for a signature. However, I think it is nicer if the parent writes the sentence because you are modeling how to do it, so your child can eventually take over the task when she is able.

First to Third Graders

By first grade, a lot of children can write a paragraph or simple essay. At this point, they should be able to write a simple thank you note. One or two sentences is usually sufficient with a salutation. If they are not sure what to write, create a few sample sentences with them, so they can mix and match them for thank you notes. After they write them, address the envelopes, and let them affix the stamps.

Fourth Grade and Up

As your children better writers, they will be able to come up wuth their own wording and sentences. Depending on their age, you may want to talk about what they are going to say or provide some ideas before they start writing.

When your child celebrates a special occasion, he may get a lot of gifts at once. Photo by fotografierende from Pexels

When your child celebrates a special occasion, he may get a lot of gifts at once. Photo by fotografierende from Pexels

Writing Many Thank You Notes: Celebrations That Encourage Multiple Gifts at Once

At some point in their lives, children will have celebrations where they receive multiple gifts at one time. If your child is having a party for a significant event, let your child select thank you notes before the event. Whether you get cards at a stationary store or less costly ones from a mass market merchandiser or store that sells dollar items, your child’s input on the cards will help remind him that a thank you note is necessary after he receives a gift.

To a child, it can seem overwhelming to write 20, 30 or even more thank you notes, depending on the number of guests at the occasion. Do not expect your child to write the notes all at once because you and your child will become frustrated.

Instead, talk to your child and agree on a set number of thank you notes that your child will write per day until all the notes are written. For example, if your child writes four notes a day for 20 birthday gifts, they will still be written quickly and mailed within a week.

Motivating Children to Write Thank You Notes

Eventually, children get to an age where they do not feel like taking the time to write a thank you note. For an isolated gift, it is usually easy to motivate them by not letting them use the gift until the note is written. If they do not like the gift or already have the item, you can tell them that they can return the gift and select something else after they write the note.

When my children got older and did not want to spend time writing thank you notes, I would let them stay up an extra 20 minutes if they wrote them promptly. My teenagers had the option of applying the time to their weekend curfew instead of staying up late.

Today, my children are adults and write notes without reminders. I believe that helping them write them at a young age was important to get them used to doing it.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Abby Slutsky

Comments

Abby Slutsky (author) from America on March 20, 2021:

Thanks so much for reading.

Sp Greaney from Ireland on March 19, 2021:

That was such a smart trick you used to motivate them to write a thank you note.

I do think that this it an important thing kids needs to learn to do. Many people really appreciate little things like this and it shows them that the child appreciates their gift.

Abby Slutsky (author) from America on March 18, 2021:

Thanks so much for reading. I appreciate your time and comments.

Abby Slutsky (author) from America on March 18, 2021:

Yes, my parents thought it was important too, so I tried to teach my kids as well. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Abby Slutsky (author) from America on March 18, 2021:

Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.

Abby Slutsky (author) from America on March 18, 2021:

Thank you so much for reading.

Liz Westwood from UK on March 18, 2021:

I wish I had read your tips many years ago. I used to struggle to get my kids to do this, but I always thought it was important. This is a very helpful article.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on March 18, 2021:

We were always taught to do that as kids. It is important to do such things.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on March 18, 2021:

This is a very important topic and your article is very helpful. "Thanks" go a long way in determining whether or not people choose to be or not be kind to children and also to adults.

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