5 Do’s and Don’ts of Writing Thank-You Notes With Your Kids

posted: 12/10/15
by: Blythe Copeland

Whether it's holiday gifts, birthday presents, or a just-because treat from a favorite aunt, kids love presents -- but they don't always love to write thank-you notes. Still, getting them to show their gratitude doesn't have to be a battle; follow these simple do's and don'ts to make note-writing a treat instead of a chore.

1. Do make it age appropriate

According to Emily Post, it's not until kids are around 3 years old that they will even start playing a part in writing thank-you notes -- and even then, their participation may be limited to scribbling on a note you wrote on their behalf. Older kids can draw a picture of the gift, while school-age kids can tell you what to write (or write most of it themselves). But as soon as your kids can write, have them add, at the very least, their own "Thank you" and their name.

2. Don't make it a chore

It's almost impossible to force someone to feel gratitude -- especially when you're talking about a kid who would rather be playing with his new Lego set than writing about it. Find ways to make thank-you note-writing a little more of a treat, whether that's letting your kids pick the design of their own customized cards, or helping them DIY their own with rubber stamps, stickers, or a personalized photo.

3. Do keep it simple

Grandma doesn't expect your preschool-age son to write a detailed account of exactly why he loves his Hungry Hungry Hippos game -- a simple, "Thank you for the game. I like to play it," will do the trick (especially when paired with a sweet signature in his just-learned-my-name handwriting). For an even simpler note format, use fill-in thank-you cards which come pre-printed, allowing your little one to practice writing the givers' names, his or her own name, and the name of the gifts without making them feel overwhelmed by a stack of blank paper.

4. Do set a good example

If you're going to set a family policy of writing thank-you notes after every birthday party and holiday season, then be prepared to sit down with your kids and write your own while they're working on theirs. Treat yourself to pretty stationery, a set of nice pens, and that return address stamp you've had your eye on for years, and make note-writing an activity you can do together.

5. Don't miss the point

If you look at thank-you note-writing as a chore, then your kids will, too. Instead, encourage them to be thoughtful and careful about what they write, and work with them to be specific about why they like a gift ("Thank you for my Hungry Hungry Hippos game. I like that it is so loud!"). And don't just limit thank-you notes to holidays and birthdays, either: Express your gratitude to the neighbor who fed your cats while you were on vacation, the aunt who dropped off a bag of secondhand toys, or the friend who shared her zoo membership last weekend. It's all part of teaching your kids that taking the time to write a personal note to people you love can make you (and them) feel pretty darn good -- and can be a welcome change from texting.