Teaching Kids Life Skills: Thank You Notes
Do your kids send thank you notes? It’s one of those important life skills for teens that’s easy to overlook.
Ours do and they have since they were little. One reason we have always done this is because we don’t live close to family – many of the kids’ gifts arrive in the mail and we want to let the sender know the gift has arrived.
But the main reason is bigger than that. For our family sending a quick note of thanks is a simple but meaningful gesture to express gratitude. Sending thank you notes is a life skill that has been passed down through generations in my family and it is something I hope my kids continue as they grow-up.
What’s the etiquette for Thank You notes?
According to Emily Post:
“When someone has given you a gift or done something special to make your life a little easier, the thank-you note is an easy way to acknowledge the time and effort he has expended on your behalf.”
4 Tips for writing Thank You notes with kids
Create personalized cards
There is no need to spend a lot of money on supplies. Children can use materials around the house to make their own personalized note cards. You can purchase blank note cards for children to decorate with stamps, stickers or drawings. Sometimes my son uses a blank index card and folds it over to make a card. Of course a piece of paper is just fine too.
Photos add fun
When my children were younger they had a birthday party at a kids’ gym. When the kids were taking a break from the action the organizers got all of the kids together and took several fun photos. Then they gave me the photos and said “print these and use these for the thank you notes.” What a brilliant idea!
Now we always take group photos at our birthday parties and use those for our thank you notes. Sometime we attach the photo to card stock to make a post card and sometimes we include the photo inside a card. A few times we have used photo editing to add “thank you” to the photo itself before we had prints made. Many times the parents and children have commented about how nice it was to have a photo to remember that special day together.
Photos are also great to send to a family member who lives far away. Send a photo of your child using the gift or just include a current photo of your child with a big smile to add a bright spot to a distant friend or family member’s day.
Make it a family activity
The best way to demonstrate the importance of writing thank you notes is to model the behavior. I learned the behavior form my parents. They always sat with us and helped us write notes…actually, they are in their 70s now and they STILL send thank you notes!
After holidays and birthdays we all sit down together, pull out the paper and supplies and write our notes. It gives us a chance to talk about the generosity of others, reflect on the memories of the holiday/event, and express gratitude for the people in our lives.
You can also use this as a time to teach your children other life skills such as how to address an envelope and how the postal service works to deliver their letters.
Keep the sentiment simple and sincere
I’ve had some parents tell me their kids don’t like to write thank you notes because they don’t like to write or they don’t know what to say. We have been writing thank you notes with our kids since they were little, and honestly, there usually isn’t a time when my kids are at a loss for words. However, if your kids need a little help keep these tips in mind:
- Talk with your child about the sender and the gift – ask questions and get them talking about what the gift meant, how surprised they were with the gift, or how special that person is to them. Use those ideas in the thank you note.
- Keep it short – Just 3 sentences are enough. They need more than just the words “thank you” but they don’t need to write a complete paragraph.
- Help your child with writing – If your child has difficulty writing you can write the words on paper for them. Have them tell you what they want to say and you actually put the words on the paper and have them write/sign their name. Remember, it’s the sentiment from the child that is most important.
Be sure to check back throughout this week as we share some of the life skills we’ve been working on in our homes.
More Etiquette for Kids
We would love to hear from you – do you think it’s important to have children send thank you notes?
What a beautiful thing to teach our kids! I just got a thank you card in the mail today from a high schooler in our church whom we donated to for a mission trip. It felt really nice to get a simple thank you from him. I try to send thank you notes to others and I’m excited to pass this on to my son one day. Thank you for your great tips on teaching them!
Thank you so much for stopping by Nicole. It makes me smile to hear about young people taking time to express their gratitude with a thank you note like the young man at your church.
Despite it not being in my curriculum, I teach this in my high school business class for I think it’s a great skill for students to learn.
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