As mothers, we beam with pride when we hear our child say “thank you” at the appropriate time and totally unprovoked. It is blissful and makes you feel successful in the “manners department” if only for the one day. When put together, “thank” and “you” are powerful words. Want to make those words even more of a positive force? Write them down.
The “Thank You Note” is a classic tool that spreads joy. Don’t you just rip into any form of mail which may look like a handwritten note? Aren’t handwritten letters so beautiful, and sadly, so rare in this age of technology? We live in an era of facebook, evites, tweets, and texts . . . the “Thank You Note” just can’t compete.
But, as mothers, teaching our children the importance of the written “thanks” is a tool that will serve them well for the rest of their lives. Teach your child to show her thanks in a note, and you are giving her a tremendous gift. After all, the best way to impress future in-laws is thanking them properly. Certainly after a visit to the White House for a State Dinner, a thank you note is only expected, right?!
It is never too early to start the thank you note lesson. First, set expectations for your child. Is today their big birthday party? Sit down before the arrival of balloons and toys and explain you are going to write letters to everyone who brings you a special gift. Charge them with the task of trying to recall who gave them what present and something special about it. Once the festivities start, remind your child as he busts into wrapping paper to think about what he is opening. This not only teaches your children to be thankful but also encourages patience and thoughtfulness. Two traits I could work on too! Mom, you will need to create a proper list of all the goodies and from whom they came, BUT ask your child if he can recall. I bet you will be so surprised when he spits out the same list as yours!
When the sprinkles settle and the party is complete, sit down and start to write. Make it a goal to get all letters out within one week. It isn’t necessary to pen them all in one day. Rather, create a working pile and take the lead from your child when they are ready. Again, you might be shocked.
For younger children, make a “template”. Keep it simple and leave blank spaces for your child to write. If she can manage the majority of her alphabet letters, she can become an author of a thank you note. Sit with her so you can help if she gets stumped on a difficult letter. It need not be the perfect note but just needs to be handwritten. Certainly, a proper piece of stationery is a nice touch (and anyone with a paper obsession as deep as mine will make a “bee-line” to the nearest stationery store), but it isn’t necessary. Fold some colorful paper in half and let your children draw on the cover. Maybe something as precious as your child playing with the gift? The sky is the limit!
When all the notes are stamped, enjoy popping them into the mail together and waving to the mail carrier as they are taken off into the wild world of the postal system. I BET your child gets so much positive response when the notes reach their final destination that it will encourage him to continue writing down his thanks more often.
Truly, there is no substitute for the written word. Teach your child the importance of thanking someone properly and you are teaching him the importance of grace and gratitude in this plugged-in world.
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