Teach Your Children the Art of Writing Thank You Notes

Teach Children the Practice of Writing Thank You Notes

In the age of the Internet and email, handwritten notes are in danger of becoming a lost art. When a gift is bestowed, it is important to recognize the thoughtfulness of the giver with a short note of appreciation.

Children, in particular, should be taught to write thank you notes, following birthdays and holidays. Even if they received presents that were duplicated, not age-appropriate (i.e. babyish), or otherwise "uncool," basic principles of graciousness require that thank you notes be mailed to all gift-givers. Ideally, a thank you note should be sent within one month of the receipt of a gift, favor, special outing or money.

This practice is just as important as teaching your children to try foods that are served at someone else's home, and to say "please," and "thank you."

Let's revisit the art of thank you notes!

Teaching Children to write thank you notes improves penmanship
Teaching Children to write thank you notes improves penmanship

Lessons to be Learned by Writing Thank You Notes

Writing thank you notes is not just a simple exercise in gratitude. A child can learn other lessons and skills, too:

  • Discuss the postal service. How long will it take the letter to get there? Who picks it up? Who delivers it? How much does a stamp cost now? How much did a stamp cost when you were young?
  • Improvement in penmanship. Young children up to at least the 4th grade can use extra practice in writing skills. Why not use this fun activity to help them work on signing their name and writing coherent sentences?
  • Empathy. Maybe Uncle Mike doesn't realize that your child is 9 years old and not interested in the Backyardigans any longer. Talk about the impacts of distance on family relationships, or perhaps the fact that the relative does not have young children. Teach the importance of recognizing that it is the "thought that counts." Decide if there is a needy child or organization to which the gift can be donated, if not exchanged.

There are many opportunities for writing thank you notes
There are many opportunities for writing thank you notes | Source

Age Appropriate Thank You Note Writing

As young as age 3, children can start learning the basics of a thank you note. Have your child "draw" a picture and explain that you will be mailing it to Grandma in appreciation for the birthday present. Talk about how excited she will be to open her mailbox and read the letter from your son or daughter. You can even have them place the envelope in the mail themselves to send it on its way.

By ages 4-5, kids start learning how to sign their own name to a thank you note, or even to write beginning words, such as "I Love You," or "Thank You." A drawing of a rainbow or flowers (or whatever else your child is interested in) can complete the note. Discuss how writing thank you notes is a polite thing to do, when someone has gone out of their way to shop for and wrap (or even mail) a present for them. This may be particularly important if your child has received an unwelcome or duplicative gift.

Once your child is in school, you can ask a bit more of them when it comes to thank you notes. Depending on reading and penmanship, have them write at least 2-3 sentences to the gift giver, thanking them for the present and telling them something else about the birthday party or holiday that was special. This is especially necessary when a gift card is given. Be sure to tell the giver what was purchased. Talk with your children about how they would feel if they got a letter in the mail. Link the discussion with one about general manners.

No free pass when they get into middle school and high school! At this point, you can begin discussing with your teenager the importance of thank you notes and letters in the professional job interview setting. Writing notes to relatives will keep them in the practice for a critical life-long skill.

Writing thank you notes is good practice
Writing thank you notes is good practice | Source

Teach your Children to Write Thank you Notes

Working with your children to write thank you notes and instilling this practice at a young age is an integral part of any parental instruction on basic manners.

You can set them up for life-long success in part by emphasizing the importance of showing appreciation to others in a timely manner, even in somewhat difficult situations (when a gift truly is not what they wanted).

It is one thing to get good grades, but if your child lacks social graces, they could be limiting their own advancement in the future. 10-15 years from now, they could be the candidate that stands out in a positive way! Who knew that two little words could have so much power?

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Comments 52 comments

John Chancellor profile image

John Chancellor 8 years ago from Tennessee

Excellent advice. I should print this out and give to the parents of a few dozen nieces and nephews.

Unfortunately you are correct. Writing thank you notes is a lost art.


danielpyle profile image

danielpyle 8 years ago from USA

Steph,

I am trying to write this thank you note, but I feel like it won't measure up to the standard that you have set.....Thank you so much for the hub and yes it is a lost art as most things in legible handwriting have become. Sadness fills my eyes.

T hanks


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 8 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

I have to admit, I went crazy over the eBay and Amazon resources in your hub. I LOVE buying paper. Note cards, stationery, padded paper, even computer paper. Rice paper, charcoal and pastel paper, water color paper, the newspaper, books. Such a joy, and so easy to do. So much easier than actually using any of it to write thank you notes, for example.

I wish my mother had your hub to read when I was a kid. I was told to write thank you notes, but I was never shown how. I have never been comfortable writing a thank you note, and I so envy those who do it well and with style.

What a gift you just gave to parents and their children. I thank you.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

John - thank you! I hope that more people find this useful and encourage their kids to write notes. Daniel - no standards set here! Just as long as the note is from the heart, that is good enough! Sally's Trove! So glad you love the resources. I so appreciate the kind comments! I am working with my own kids... :-)


2patricias profile image

2patricias 8 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

I still give my kids a pack of Thank You notes in their Christmas stocking. They are both 'over 21'. I missed them out one year and got complaints!

This is a great Hub, Steph. One of your best.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

What a wonderful comment, 2patricias! I especially like the fact that you keep the practice going by including the package of notes each year in the Christmas stocking. Kudos to you!


amy jane profile image

amy jane 8 years ago from Connecticut

You are so right, Steph! Great topic (and hub). I especially liked the "lessons to be learned" section. :)


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thanks Amy! I thought this would be a great request to answer. :-)


In The Doghouse profile image

In The Doghouse 8 years ago from California

Steph.

Again, another great Hub. I am the world's worst thank-you note writer, however I think I am the best reciever of gifts because I always become excited and grateful at the moment. I simply must improve on the "aftermath". Thanks for the tips.


The How To Hub profile image

The How To Hub 8 years ago from Australia

Thanks Steph, I really like this hub, you can make any topic interesting.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

In the Doghouse - I am the classic type of person where they say, "do as I say, not as I do!" I am great at giving advice, and actually am doing pretty well by my kids. I need to do better myself at writing notes. :-) The How To Hub - thank you!


newcapo 8 years ago

Great hub, seems like thank you's are only given for wedding or baby shower gifts now....definitely lost art....

Really like the way your hub is laid out with pictures and text around pictures with different background. I've got to do my homework and figure out how to do that.

Thanks!


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

newcapo - thank you! I agree that people can do more with respect to thank you notes. Re: the hub layout, experiment more. I look back at my original hubs 4 months ago, and I have really changed things over the past few months! Feel free to copy what you like! Steph


RUTHIE17 8 years ago

Steph--another good one!

I'm in agreement with you that writing Thank You notes has almost disappeared in the manners column, right along with just writing letters.  My letter writing has jumped over to the computer--I send lots of e-mails now (saves on postage).  But I hate getting thank-you's and greeting cards as e-mails.  Just seems kind of rude and impersonal to me.

Speaking of manners--we're (my daughter and I) are trying to teach them to my 4 1/2 year old grandson.  People seem amazed when he says "Yes, mam" and "No, mam" (or sir, as the case may be), "Excuse me" when he sneezes or (as boys will) burps, or even when he bumps into someone.  He asks to be excused from the table and (most of the time) uses a napkin to wipe his hands and mouth, chews with his mouth closed, no elbows on the table and says Please and Thank You.  That is how I brought my 2 up and my daughter is bringing up Liam the same.  "Manners never hurt anyone" as my Mom used to say but today it's usually something not seen very often in kids.

Sorry, went off on a tangent! Don't know what's got into me today!

Anyway--nice work!


msms profile image

msms 8 years ago

A very nice advice and a very nice way of a very nice thing to learn and make children learn.

You are great in looking into needs of people.

Thanks ia very small word but very important to say at right time in right way. You have taught this all the more professionally. Thanks Dear!


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Ruthe - So glad to hear about the manners instruction! We, too, ask our children to say "may I please be excused?" when they are finished eating. They know to take their caps off at the table (so many young men do not!) But, yes, this could be the subject of an entirely new hub!. Msms, thank you for the wonderful comments. We could all use more civility in our lives. Steph


Karen Ellis profile image

Karen Ellis 8 years ago from Central Oregon

Yes, please someone teach children to send thank you notes. I know, even a lot of adults don't bother. I always thought, "how rude" to not even acknoledge a gift. It's mostly relitives, for me, that don't send thank yous. Oooo. I sound angry. Not really, you just hit a small button.


Minnie's Mom profile image

Minnie's Mom 8 years ago from Seattle, WA

Great hub, as always ; ) I send "Thank-You" postcards. Less postage & I can write them on planes or coffee shops quickly so I don't forget anyone.


Lifebydesign profile image

Lifebydesign 8 years ago from Australia

So true Steph, and I just love getting letters these days. The last letter I handwrote was to a great-aunt in Chicago and she loved it. Its great to know we can and should instruct our kids in this dying art. Great hub :-)!


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Minnies Mom - that is an excellent idea! Karen, I can't agree more! Who knows if your gift that you mailed got to its destination if you don't receive a thank you note? I am especially appalled at the lack of thank yous from brides these days! Manners are out the window!


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Lifebydesign - I am in great favor with my husband's grandmother because I know to write her thank you notes for her gifts!! :-) My own grandmother so appreciates the notes from my own children (and drawings, etc.). It doesn't take much to brighten someone's day! Thanks for the great comment.


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 8 years ago from Southern California, USA

Thank you for writing this hub reminding everyone about the thoughtful of writing thank you notes. I think sometimes in our fast paced society we forget about these basic these, so it is good to read a hub that kind remind us all :). Thanks you!


sunstreeks profile image

sunstreeks 8 years ago from Western Washington

Steph this is a truly great idea. Teaching thank you letter writing and proper manners during the gift season. Come this fall and the BIG 4 years old Birthday party, Ally will be taking on her newest big kid responsiblity of sending out thank yous.

I hop you don't mind, I'd like to add a short bio and a link to this page on my newest website project. This topic is something that will fit in quite well at http//preschoolonline.weebly.com


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Sweetie Pie - yes! The fast pace of our lives is exactly why we should slow down and take a minute for a special note. Sunstreeks! By all means, I would love you to link this page to yours. I will check it out. Thank you. Steph


werdux profile image

werdux 8 years ago

I actually just wrote a hub about creative ways for children to send thank you notes. I think that it is very important for a thank you to be sent every time you receive a gift. I think it is also important to make the thankyou note interesting for the person receiving it and not to make it your typical boring thank you card.


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 8 years ago from Southern California, USA

My friends also write old fashioned letters to each other, which are more fun than emails in my humble opinion. Maybe your next hub will be about that :).


Hope Wilbanks profile image

Hope Wilbanks 8 years ago from Louisiana

Great Hub! I have slacked on writing "real" notes lately. I can think of a couple of people I'd like to thank. Perhaps it's time to get out the note cards. :)


byee profile image

byee 8 years ago

This is great! I just sent out some Thank You cards recently for people who attended my birthday party. I know when I get a Thank You note, it warms my heart, so I make sure I send them out to anyone I need to thank. Keep up the great work =).


jezzbb profile image

jezzbb 8 years ago from Philippines

The positive benefits of thank you notes work both ways, for the giver and the taker.

This is a truly great hub!


Angela Harris profile image

Angela Harris 8 years ago from Around the USA

Thank you notes are indeed rare and especially treasured. We are friends with a young couple and they never fail to send us thoughtful, handwritten thank-you notes after any present or gathering. I cherish them all.


compu-smart profile image

compu-smart 8 years ago from London UK

Unfortunately i have no reason to send any thank-you cards lately!

Writing anything down on paper is such a personal thing and much more nicer than anything electronically one can send via the web, even it it does mean wasting a tree for stamps, paper and envelopes its well worth it!!...from what i can remember!!:)


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thank you everyone for the wonderful comments! I've been away for 3 days and just catching up. Bottom line - write a nice personal note instead of an email. It is so great to get something in the mailbox other than a bill!


Kat07 profile image

Kat07 8 years ago from Tampa

Oh so true - Thank You notes and cards are such a lost art. It's a shame, it's a wonderful piece of etiquette that is disappearing.


evemurphy profile image

evemurphy 8 years ago from Ottawa

Such a great topic to bring our attention to. I know of several moms who could use a refresher course in teaching their kids politeness skills like this!


funnebone profile image

funnebone 8 years ago from Philadelphia Pa

k kids, 128 hubs...can i get a blood transfusion from you?


marg07 profile image

marg07 8 years ago from Australia

Good hub. It's a shame the practice has died off.

Almost exciting these days to get something handwritten in the mail rather than those horrible letters with windows!!


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Marg07 - I can't agree more! It is so nice to get cards and letters. And so rare! Funnebone.... LOL!! Kat and evemurphy - thanks for the great comments. I can't believe that some parents allow their kids to act the way they do sometimes. This is one of the simple things to teach that will truly last a lifetime. :-)


Kathy 7 years ago

Hi Steph-- I certainly agree with you-- I have built an entire website of thank you notes for people to "borrow". There is a page with sample wording for children that your readers might find it useful. Sometimes seeing an example helps you get started.


Kathy 7 years ago

Oops, here's the Kids' Samples page mentioned above:

http://www.thank-you-note-samples.com/kids-thank-y...


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 7 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Kathy! Thank YOU for the great link and comments. I have my kids write notes often to their relatives. Who doesn't love getting a real letter in the post box? Cheers, Stephanie


RGraf profile image

RGraf 7 years ago from Wisconsin

You are right! We are losing the ability. Though I always felt such pressure to right that I just wished I had never received the gift. After my wedding while I was still on my honeymoon, women pressured my mother and mother-in-law as to why they had not received a thank you note. I had just received the gift two days before. We can take things too far in either direction.

Thank you for the reminder of being polite.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 7 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

You are right RGraf. I just saw a wedding greeting card the other day with a bride and groom cartoon. The groom is thinking "sex, sex, sex," and the bride is thinking "thank you notes, thank you notes, thank you notes." Funny, but yes - extreme! :)


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

Hi Steph. This is a super important topic. My oldest two went to private scool, and written letters were how they learned to write from preschool, just a simple drawing to someone. Each had their own mailboxes and this continued through third grade when letters were then written for specific purposes. My second youngest has gotten absolutely no letter writing experience AT ALL in public school. I didn't really think about this until I read your hub here, and you are so right. I'm going to have to rectify this over summer break. Thanks.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 7 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Hi Frieda, you are right! I always make my kids write thank you notes and hopefully, they won't need prompting soon. Good for you for picking up the slack where schools fall behind.


Lissa Lynn profile image

Lissa Lynn 7 years ago from upstate NY

Excellent hub! I know my sister always makes sure my niece sends out thank you cards but my brother doesn't. Maybe I'll have to print this out and send it to him anonymously :) Thanks for a great hub! :)


heart4theword profile image

heart4theword 7 years ago from hub

Great Hub, I agree thank you notes are becoming a lost art! There is much more warmth and love put into a hand picked, hand written, thank you card:) Finding special stationary or note cards, is half the fun:) Thank You!


Mama Sez profile image

Mama Sez 7 years ago from Canada

Hi, I hope your hub can reach more parents.

Receiving thank you notes, especially from kids is really heartwarming. I get this a lot from my kids, with all their drawings.

We shouldn't lose this art and culture.


GarnetBird profile image

GarnetBird 6 years ago from Northern California

This is SO True! My niece has recently been taught how to write Thank You notes, and it makes me feel so much more appreciated when I send her something. You might like my Hub, The Magic of Story Starters: Getting Your kids to Write!Good Hub.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

The art of writing thank you notes has almost disappeared like the dinosaurs. You are setting your children up for success in teaching them these skills. I know that when I receive a hand written thank you note, it means so much! Rating this useful and will twitter it. Hoping to raise awareness of this! Thanks!


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thanks Peggy - I just had my children write hand-made Holiday Greetings cards for their teachers, too. I am determined to teach them this largely forgotten skill, important to remember this time of giving, too. ;-)


robie2 profile image

robie2 5 years ago from Central New Jersey

it is so important to acknowledge gifts and kindnesses and a written note is always so appreciated--What a great idea for a hub and how did I miss this one?


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thanks Robie - I decided to recirculate this one after writing thank you notes myself this morning! And I will agree that I love getting notes in the mail myself. :)

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