When I was a little girl, my mom taught me to write thank you notes at a very young age. This is still something I do as an adult, and I have taught my kids to do the same. Writing thank you notes is a wonderful way to take a moment to show appreciation, and my girls write thank you notes for the gifts they receive.
Here are some tips:
Make your own cards.
Part of making a meaningful thank you can be to make your own thank you notes. All you need are some store-bought blank cards, or you can cut up some paper of your own, and then your child can decorate the notes as they please. Even before my kids were old enough to understand the thank you notes, I had them finger-paint and then I would cut up the paintings and stick the images on the front of the cards.
If your child received arts and crafts supplies as a gift, you can even try to work that into the thank you notes. For example, markers or crayons, stickers, rubber stamps, or washi tape.
Write a sincere thank you.
I was always taught to write a thoughtful message. Not just “Thanks for the ____”. Write a little bit about the present. Your child can talk about how they are using it, or perhaps what they might use a monetary gift or gift card for.
Make it easy and fun, not frustrating.
Make sure that you tailor the thank you to your child’s level, so that it isn’t too difficult or frustrating.
You can also make the thank you notes in stages. We often make the actual cards before a birthday or Christmas, so that it is an easy project. Then you aren’t scrambling to prepare the cards when it comes time to write them out.
When we sit down to write the actual thank-you’s, we space it out. Even older kids are going to likely be overwhelmed writing a dozen notes at one time.
We started involving our children around age 4, when they were old enough to be able to write their names on the card. For preschoolers and kindergarteners, you can write all or most of the thank you message.
When they are old enough and learning to write, you can have kids fill in single words, like a person’s name, or the name of the gift.
My 1st grader writes all of her thank you notes with some coaching on how to spell. I have even written what she wants to say on an index card, and then she copies it on to the thank you note.
Get your child their own return address labels.
My kids were excited to receive their first set of return address labels, which they helped to design with cute characters. This way, they feel like an adult and involves them in the whole card-sending process. Not only are they learning to show their gratitude, but they are learning about the overall process of writing a letter and sending it. My kids enjoy putting on the return address label, the stamp, and picking out a sticker to seal the back of the envelope.
Take a picture, make a picture.
In addition to a thank you note, sometimes we also take a picture of our child enjoying their gift. In this age of so much media, it is so easy to snap a photo with your iPhone and immediately click “send”. While a thoughtful thank you note shows that your child put effort into showing their gratitude, a photo can also be worth a million words.
This is also very useful for instances where you may not be able to write a thank you. When my daughter had a hospital stay, she received numerous get-well gifts, and we had so much going on that we thanked people with photos when we could, whether it was a picture of my daughter doing a craft or even a photo of something she created, because we didn’t know when we would be going home or getting around to writing notes.
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