“Mom, let’s write thank-you notes!” Sure, it sounds like a dream: your children running up to you and begging to write thank-you notes to their aunts, uncles and Cousin Pete. It could be a reality — if you cut out the obligation and play up the gratitude. Explain the value and purpose of the notes: “Thank-you notes are a special way to tell Nanna and Grampa how much you liked their present.” Get creative. Make it fun!
Writing thank-you notes is also a great activity to do with your child. Regardless of the reason for the note, you have the opportunity to spend some time together encouraging writing, and your child will learn an important etiquette skill that will serve him or her for a lifetime.
- Explain that receiving thank-you notes makes people feel good. And it lets them know that the gift arrived safely and is appreciated.
- The sooner the better! Get those notes written as soon as possible. But don’t be embarrassed by a note sent a bit late, even a month after the gift was received. It’s far better to send a late note than no note at all.
- Spend a few minutes talking about the gift and what made it special: It’s a book you loved reading. You’ve already made three projects with the art kit. The toy is so much fun to play with you haven’t wanted to do anything else. You had a great time shopping with your friends and found the perfect sweater with the gift card.
- Have fun, age appropriate materials on hand to get your child interested in the project: colorful notepaper, markers, fun pens, stickers and stamps.
- If you have a camera, take a picture of your child and the gift. Include the photo with the thank-you note.
- Again, remember to keep it fun! If you view this as drudgery, so will the kids.
You will write the majority of these thank-you notes, especially for three-year-olds. Involve your child in the process by explaining what you’re doing and showing her the form and content of the card or note.
- Leave an area for her to scribble her own greeting — this will make the notes even more touching for the recipients.
- A three- to five-year-old might want to draw a picture (possibly of the gift) that can be included with the note.
- Many four- and five-year-olds are learning how to write their names. Ask them to sign the card. They’ll be proud to do it, and Aunt Pearl will get to see how well her nephew can write.
- Get the six- and seven-year-olds to work with you. You can have them dictate what they want you to write, or you can each write part of the note. (Seven-year-olds may be able to write themselves.)
- Eight-, nine- and ten-year-olds can work on their own notes. You can act as editor — and teacher. This is a good opportunity to encourage them, impart a little wisdom and check spelling.
- At any of these ages, always have them sign the note with their own “thank you,” regardless of how much of the note they write.
- Don’t try to polish off too many notes in one sitting. When you sense your child is losing interest, it’s time to take a break. Plan several short sessions over the course of a week or two to get everything finished.
- You may need to address the envelope, but let your child put the stamp on and put it in the mailbox.