With the holiday season fast approaching, I thought this was a perfect time to share with you all something I think is often forgotten or not even thought of … the “thank you” note.
I wonder … do other moms still make their kids write “thank you” notes?
Is this so “old fashioned” that I am asking too much?
I mean, does anyone ever get real mail in the mailbox anymore?
I feel the art of a handwritten note is being sadly lost, especially for our children.
I have had my kids write thank you notes for gifts since they could write.  For a long time they didn’t know the difference – they thought all kids were required to do this simple common courtesy, until one day …
It was the first Christmas that my husband and I were married and now the new step-mom was in charge of the “motherly” stuff in the home.  My step-son had no idea of the “thank you” note policy our family had, so when I just assumed we would all fall under MY guiding, well – it was taken with complete surprise!  My husband didn’t quite understand my insistence at having all the kids write thank you notes, even to people that were present when the gift was opened.
I gave my reasoning and you guessed it … we all write thank you notes!
I mean, come on – mama knows best!
I feel my kids get a great lesson out of this experience whenever their birthday or another holiday rolls around.  It helps them continue to be grateful – they don’t just say a quick, “thank you” when they open the gift and move onto the next. Even if the person giving the gift is present when the “present” is opened, they typically send a note as well. They write a true expression of how they intend to use the gift as well as saying, “thank you”.  It’s simply part of good parenting to raise children who appreciate what they have and to give thanks for it.  They learn this at home.
I like that my kids write an actual card, address it and mail it.  This is rather “old fashioned” some of you would think, but I love getting REAL mail!  I think when someone receives an actual card in the mail it is impacts them in a different way and can touch someone much deeper than an email or phone call.
I had a Cathy, a reader at my blog share with me some cute cards she made along with her young ones.  Can you even imagine getting one of these handmade creations in the mail with a thank you for the gift you gave?  I would keep this card forever!
A few ideas I have been given by other moms:

  • Take a photo of the child with the gift and send it along with the note.  It makes a great addition for the gift giver to see the joy on your child’s face!
  • If you are having trouble “encouraging” your child writing a note, simply set the expectation that they cannot use the item until the note is written.  This has been very effective in our home, especially with older kids and monetary gifts.  My kids are lucky enough to get small tokens of money in their holiday cards from grandparents and other relatives, just the other day my oldest opened it and the next thing out of her mouth was, “Where are the thank you notes, mom.”  Talk about a proud mom moment!
  • Encourage your child to not only write the note, if they are too young, let them draw a picture on half of the card and at least attempt to sign their name.  Have them sit with you while you write the actual correspondence so they can start to understand how to write an authentic thank you note from the heart.

Here are 4 great pointers on writing a note:

  1. Hand write the note, do not type out a note unless it is impossible for you to do otherwise.  Even if your child can only write a small portion, have them write what they can.
  2. Start the note with a greeting, “hope you are doing well”, “it was nice to see you at my part”, or something similar.
  3. Next, thank the person for the gift. Use words like generous, thoughtful, and kind – be sincere in the wording.  Describe the gift in detail using a few adjectives.  If the gift was money, refer to it as a “gift” and list a way you plan to use it.  This part of the note should be 2-3 sentences.
  4. Add a pleasant sign off, such as “hope to see you soon,” or “I hope you had a nice holiday” or something similar as well as a farewell ending.

If you are not in the habit of having your kids write “thank you” notes, maybe this year is the first.
Think about what you are teaching your children and what habits they are developing for later in life. What kind of reaction will an employer give to a note that arrives in the mail ‘thanking’ them for the opportunity to interview? A handwritten note speaks much louder than you can imagine.
Call me “old fashioned” but I write thank you notes too – yep – remember they are watching you.  Live by example, express your gratitude and have fun finding creative ways to say “thank you.”

Our children are watching us live, and what we are shouts louder than anything we can say. ~ Wilfred A. Peterson

(photo source)

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