Everyday Etiquette… You’re Never too Young to Say Thank You!

Have you ever met a child (or an adult for that matter) who likes to write thank you notes? It is an unwritten rule that a gift should be acknowledged promptly.  A handwritten note is really a way of showing appreciation for the item and the gesture.  Thank you notes make the gift giver feel appreciated, and these notes reinforce the importance of gratitude in today’s world.  

You may be thinking that all this makes sense, but how do I get my child or teen to actually write a note.  Here are some age appropriate tips to make this process go from a chore to a tolerable (even pleasant) experience.
 

  • First and foremost, as an adult you must set the example.  If your children see you writing thank you notes, they will come to realize that this is the right thing to do.  
 
  • Of course you will do the corresponding on the behalf of your infant and toddler.
 
Since you as the adult will write the note, you can choose whatever
stationery you like.  I suggest that is personalized with the child’s name
and have a whimsical feel since it is being written on behalf of the tot.
  • 3-5 year olds need to be involved in the process even though you as the parent will be doing the majority of writing.  Make this a fun activity explaining that Aunt Sally really spent a lot of time picking out the present and how special that is. Tell your child how thrilled Aunt Sally will feel when she receives a note telling her how much the gift means.  As you write the note explain what you are doing and why.  Leave space for your child’s scribbles or have him/her draw a picture of the gift.  If your child can write his/her name, include it at the end of the note.  Recipients of these notes will count your young child’s efforts as special treasures.  Listed below is one of my favorites for this age group.
 
  • 6-10 year olds can be much more involved in the actual process. Your child will think it fun to have personalized stationery.  The younger end of this age spectrum can tell you what they want you to write.  You can each write part of the note & include your child’s drawing.  Of course at this age, your child can provide an original thank you and signature. Your 8-10 year old can probably write the entire note with you serving as consultant and editor. The time you spend with your child writing these notes is a wonderful way to impart your wisdom, values and encouragement.  Plan short sessions of writing so it does not become drudgery.  A milk & cookie break is always fun.  I have listed a few of my favorites for this age group.  After some items I have put younger or older indicating which end of this age spectrum is the most appropriate.
 
Kids’ Critter Notes & Seals  –  younger girl or boy
    (You’ll need to get envelopes separately for these)
Sorbet Notes – girl
Glitter Notes – girl
  • Tweens (11-13) can definitely take more responsibility for this project.  Let your “tween” select his/her personalized stationery. Even if you do not love the choice, they will like what they picked out and therefore use it (we hope).  Set aside a time for the family to write their thank you notes (Christmas evening), or sit down and write a note to a friend as your “tween” tackles his/her thank you notes.  Be sure to be encouraging and give ideas of what to say and how to say it effectively.  Let your “tween” use self expression instead of creating a scripted letter.  Add some music to the mix and have fun.  I have a few favorites for this age group also. You can go either way with your “tween” stationery depending on how sophisticated he/she is.
 
Sorbet Notes – girl
Hanover Notes – girl
Glitter Notes – girl
Sports Fanatic Notes – younger “tween” boy
Any of the Teen boy recommendations
  • Teens have the ability to do these notes themselves.  You should be sure that they have stationery (personalized), pens, address book, stamps – all the necessary tools.  If your teen is really creative, let him/her design original stationery on the computer, add recent photos, etc.  The real trick here is to get your teen motivated to write thank yous.  If you began this process in the early years, he/she will know that thank you notes are a given expectation in your family.  If not, you may have to resort to bribery or whatever works for you.  Although not exactly proper, an email note of thanks is better than no note. Below are a few of my favorites for this age group. There is such a wonderful assortment of stationery for adults and young adults that it is hard to choose!  The choices for the “tween” girls may also appeal to the teen girl.
 
Just one more thing . . . the gift that is a real loser.  We have all gotten them!!!  Since all gifts should be acknowledged, this is when you remind your child/teen that it is really the thought that counts not the item.  Just have your 13 year old write Aunt Sally thanking her for the game of Chutes & Ladders emphasizing how much he/she appreciates her remembering the birthday.  A younger sibling, neighbor child or a charity will also appreciate the “regifted” game.

One last note  . . . I always told my kids that the best way to ensure gifts is to be sure to write thank you notes!  It always worked for them!   Hopefully saying Thank You will become a regular tradition in your family.

More later. . .
Ms. Carey
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