Emily Post and Miss Manners would be so pleased. I was raised to write thank you notes. After each birthday party and Christmas, I dutifully took out my stationary and wrote notes of thanks to those who had gifted me. As a child, I never viewed thank you notes as a chore like my brother did. I enjoyed taking out my stationary and using fancy pens to write to friends and family members. Thank you notes are a tradition that I plan to continue with my own children.
Besides good etiquette, why are thank you notes important? If your child is like my 4 year old daughter, there is something special about receiving a letter in the mail. Mail is even more treasured if it is a personalized handwritten note. Whether a postcard, note card, or letter, taking the time to write a thank you note shows your appreciation for the time it took to select and purchase the gift, in addition to the gift itself. And yes, even if your child hurls the unwrapped item at the wall in distaste, it is still proper etiquette to send a thank you.
Etiquette aside, thank you notes provide children with an opportunity to practice writing and communication skills. Sit down with your child and reminisce about their birthday or holiday. Then take out a stack of stationary and a pen and discuss each gift, such as what they like about it or how they plan to use it. Chances are that your child will have plenty to say about each gift. Write down a couple sentences about the gift if your child isn't old enough to write and personalize the note with a picture. If your child can write the letters in the alphabet, write thank you on a piece of paper and have them write it on a card along with their name. Writing a few words is great handwriting practice and empowers your child towards writing independently.
Childrens' thank you notes don't have to be formal or perfect. They should be fun to write and even more fun to receive. Keep it fun by having a stash of colorful stationary along with a collection of art supplies, stickers, and stamps for your child to use. Encourage your child to write by providing a dedicated space where they can easily access their materials and lots of positive feedback.
Before you know it, your child will get into the routine of writing thank you notes and Emily Post and Miss Manners will be thrilled!
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