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Have your kids learned how to write thank you notes yet? No? I’m sure they’re not alone. But writing thank you notes is a good idea for a lot of reasons:
• It helps the child make a connection between the gift and the giver
• It helps the child learn a social nicety and be a better member of the community
• It helps the child apply skills in writing and handwriting

So the effort you must go through to force your children to write thank you notes is well worth it. No one says this is easy. Everyone says it’s good.

The thing is, writing an acceptable thank you note is very, very easy. There are just three sentences needed:

Sentence One:
Includes the words Thank You, the giver’s name and the gift with an adjective.
“Dear Grandma, Thank you for the great puzzle.”

Sentence Two:
Says something about how the gift will be used or a feature that makes it special
“I really like the picture it makes with all the animals.”

Sentence Three:
Makes a wish for the giver’s happiness.
“I hope you had a good holiday too!”

The only thing needed to round this out is the child’s signature. Tack that on and slide the note into an envelope. Done!

Of course, a thank you can be longer. It can go into greater detail. But the focus should be on the giver, the giver’s happiness and the giver’s gift.

A good thank you can be dictated and then personally signed. It can be written by hand or typed on computer. It can include a picture or a photo. It can be delivered by email or letter, though an email should be composed offline first.

But a good thank you cannot be a form letter. While it follows a formula, it shouldn’t seem like it could be sent to any giver about any gift.

Naturally, the child can just say this in a phone call. That works, sort of. And if the giver was present when the gift was opened, and the child said “thank you” at the time, then no thank you note is needed. But you can see the advantages of actually writing thank you notes. If your child hasn’t written hers yet, then make that something you and she do today.

How to get kids to make their thank yous?
1. Do this before the newness wears off. Today is a good day.
2. Make this a morning’s project and get them all done at once. Don’t let writing thank yous linger on and on and on.
3. Get some cute notecards that will make the writing fun. If you don’t trust your child to do a neat enough job of writing on fancy notecards, write the note on plain paper and stick it on to the notecard with a gluestick.
4. Reward completion. Celebrate mailing off the thank you notes with a trip to the park or something else fun.
Unless your child is older and can print legibly, you should address the envelopes yourself.

Help your children write their thank you notes. They will feel grown up and pleased with themselves. They will practice valuable writing skills. And they (and you) will delight the givers.

Thank yous all round!

© 2012, Patricia Nan Anderson. All rights reserved.