Last year, our son, Kellan, received a handmade thank-you note from one of his friends for a birthday gift he’d given him. This card, created by a seven-year-old child was one of the sweetest little thank you notes I’d ever seen. The detailed drawing and note it included expressed clear appreciation for the gift and the friendship that the boys shared.
Kellan was thrilled to receive this note of thanks and excitedly said to me “he really liked my gift!” He felt such excitement about the fact that his friend had loved the gift which he’d take the time to choose just for him.
The beauty of the situation was that Kellan’s friend experienced the joy of gratitude while Kellan experienced the joy of being appreciated! That is the awesomeness of thank-you notes!
Not everyone agrees that thank-you notes are awesome or worthwhile though, so I discussed some of the objections and benefits of thank-you notes in a previous post. I personally find that thank-you notes, especially handwritten notes, can be very meaningful to people.
And just as it’s important for us, as adults, to express our gratitude, it’s also important for us to teach our children the practice and significance of expressing gratitude.
But helping our children write thank-you notes can be incredibly time-consuming for us as parents so why should we bother doing it?
There are (at least) 5 reasons why it’s worthwhile for us to ask our children to write thank-you notes and to take the time to guide them through that process.
Here are ways I have found it to be a valuable practice and why you’ll want to teach your kids how to write thank-you notes:
- It causes your child to reflect on what they have received and who they have received it from.
- It teaches them what gratitude looks like because yes, showing gratitude does take a little bit of effort.
- It allows them to practice their writing skills.
- It causes other people to feel good because not only do people like to be appreciated but most people also enjoy receiving notes from children.
- It provides the perfect opportunity to teach your children about addresses, the postal service and how to properly address an envelope.
If you have a child that isn’t writing well yet that is okay! There are ways to work around that. You can involve them in the process by asking them what they’d like to say, scribing it for them and then having them sign their name.
One year our son typed his thank-you notes instead of writing them and then just signed his name. While handwritten notes are wonderful, he was completely overwhelmed with the idea of writing his thank-you notes that year I suggested he just type them. He was excited about that idea and really enjoyed doing it. It was a stress-free solution.
Another possibility is to have your child complete fill-in-the-blank thank-you notes. Our girls, who recently turned five, used these free printable thank you notes from The Happier Homemaker to write thank-you notes after their birthday party. They actually really enjoyed doing it because they were able to include a drawing with the note. It was a perfect solution for them!
“But I don’t have time for this!”
I hear you, friend. I really do. There have been so many times in the past number of years I have felt that I do not have the time to help the kids with thank-you notes. And I wonder, does anyone even really care?
But here is the thing. People do care. And most importantly, it’s an important practice for our children.
Please understand that if you decide not to do this, it’s ok. I never, ever want anyone to feel guilty or bad if they don’t do something I suggest because we all have enough mommy guilt going on. But if helping your children write thank-you notes is something you agree with the importance of, then just decide to work on it and do the best you can.
And here’s a little fact about us that will make you feel better: we take a loooooooong time to get these completed and out the door. Months sometimes. Because, honestly, we might be able to only do one per day because the children get tired after each one, and some days we don’t have the time or capacity to work on them at all. I don’t push the kids too hard to get them done because I want it to be enjoyable for them (at least as much as possible) rather than something they completely dread. Then I just send the notes out as they are completed, rather than a big bunch. We just keep plugging along until they are all finished.
It’s absolutely not a perfect process. However, I figure it’s better to complete them slowly rather than skip it entirely. And sometimes the receiver of the thank-you appreciates the note so much that they actually thank the kids for their thank-you note! 🙂