Should I Teach my Child to Write Thank You Notes?

Dana Hinders

While writing thank you notes was once a common practice, this custom appears to have fallen out of favor in recent years. However, there are many excellent reasons why you should consider teaching your children to write thank you notes.

Thank you notes are a way to express appreciation.
Thank you notes are a way to express appreciation.

In a society where e-mail and instant messaging are the preferred methods of communication, handwritten thank you notes may seem dreadfully old-fashioned at first glance. Fortunately, gratitude and good manners never go out of style.

Handwritten notes are seemingly a lost art among generations that grew up with electronic communication.
Handwritten notes are seemingly a lost art among generations that grew up with electronic communication.

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Before teaching your child to write thank you notes, explain that choosing the perfect gift for someone takes a lot of time and energy. Tell him that sending a thank you note lets the giver know that you appreciate this effort. Let your children see you write your own thank you notes and make a point of showing them any thank you notes you have received from relatives or family friends.

Writing a thank you note doesn’t have to be a complicated task. Two or three sentences is generally sufficient in most cases. Your child should acknowledge that the gift has been received and briefly state how he plans to use the gift or what he likes most about the item. If the gift was one that missed the mark, however, you may need to help your child come up with diplomatic wording for the note.

Most child development experts agree that children can begin to understand the importance of thank you notes at about three years of age. However, since children of this age are too young to write, you’ll need to help with the wording or encourage your child to draw a thank you picture instead. If you have access to a digital camera, you can also have your child pose for a thank you photo that features him enjoying the gift.

Children who can read and write should be required to complete their own thank you notes with minimal parental assistance, but you’ll still want to provide some supervision. Writing thank you notes can often be a great opportunity to practice spelling, grammar, and sentence structure. If your child struggles to express himself on paper, you can turn the task into a practical application of the lessons he’s learning in school.

Writing thank you notes will be more enjoyable if you take your child shopping for fun stickers and note cards. You can find inexpensive children’s stationary kits featuring flowers, sports themes, or cartoon motifs at most discount or dollar stores. If your child enjoys craft projects, you may even want to purchase rubber stamps and washable dye ink pads to have him create homemade thank you notes.

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