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Thank You... But I hate that STUPID bathrobe!!!

Updated on May 1, 2008

When you're not grateful... APPRECIATE!!!

Encouraging children to write thank you notes for unwelcome gifts calls on us to inspire kids to focus on appreciation and gratitude!

That can be tricky when your reserved 13 year old who prefers muted colors just received the tie-dyed bathrobe from an Aunt they barely know!!!

Here's a tip: Teach your kids the distinction between APPRECIATION and GRATITUDE!

Gratitude is a feeling of being thankful for...

Appreciation is the presence of everything that FEELS GOOD! We bask in appreciation... appreciation of... love.

Understand... this is ongoing learning so it's not something you spring upon children when it's time to write a note of thanks for a gift. Believe me, it's well worth your time, with benefits untold, to make a habit of noting what you appreciate each day... and teaching your children this habit can be pure delight. If you have been teaching your children the habit of appreciating what there is around them on a daily basis... it will be far easier to come up with something to appreciate when the 5 year old has to write a 'Thank You Note' for that itchy sweater in the wrong color when they would have preferred Pokeman cards!

Rewards of Thank-you notes

I've heard the recommendation that if people do not send you a thank you note for a gift given... quit sending them gifts!

Personally, I'm not going to quit giving my kids and grandkids gifts if/when I fail to receive a thank you note... I don't have that string attached to my giving. Yet I will say that I love... (and often frame ;-)) the thank-you notes received!!!

So while there may be some validity in sharing with your child that if they don't send a note of thanks they may not be receiving presents for long... understand they may be perfectly okay with that since they really don't want another old scratchy sweater or tie-dyed bathrobe anyway!!!

But the value and benefit of sending Thank You notes is far greater than insuring the future receipt of gifts.

Thank-you notes can open you to a more generous approach to life. Learning that there is an expression of love to be appreciated when someone takes the time, effort and thought of you required to buy and send a gift is a very expansive lesson. So teach your child to set aside their own desires and focus their attention on the giver for a moment. They won't realize it at the time but I guarantee it will expand their approach to life in fabulous ways!

I'm one of those oddballs who writes a thank you note every day. I committed myself to this daily practice as part of my spiritual discipline three years ago and even before then I found pleasure in writing thank you notes. Now, I'm not suggesting you talk to your kids about a 'spiritual discipline'... that would be unproductive... but I do know if you can find some joy in it you will find it far easier to teach your child about writing thank you notes even for gifts they don't like.

Catherine Calver, writing in Town and Country magazine, says that writing thank-you notes "can be one of life's purest pleasures, in which the truly imaginative transmute the 'chore' into something special -- the most basic form of communication, heart to heart.

"Without a thank-you," she adds, "the cycle of giving is incomplete. Something pleasurable-- but also something fundamental-- is lost when expedience is chosen over form. If poetry is emotion recollected in tranquility, then surely a gesture of thanks can be a perfect poem."

Keep it Playful as you Teach

Here are some suggestions for specifically helping your kids write thank-you notes in ways that can be fun --

  • Get the kids involved! Let them choose stationary and writing implements and consider stickers and photos
  • Provide a special spot for note writing and have a fun snack when the task is completed
  • Give them a broad time frame...say a week. Let them work on it at their own pace until it's done. 10 minutes per sitting is plenty long
  • Sit down with your child/ren either helping the preliterate ones or writing your own notes
  • Use preprinted cards that have just enough space for one sentence from a beginning writer. Your child will feel a sense of accomplishment
  • Use fill-in-the-blank cards. You can even create your own. I.E. "Dear ___, Thank you so much for the _____. I like it because _________ (or I really appreciate you thinking of me). Your friend, ________.

  • Re-create the purchase. Impress on your children the time and effort required to purchase, wrap and mail a gift by enacting the tasks beginning with the shopping trip.
  • Simply write a big THANK YOU and enclose a picture of the child mugging for the camera with the gift.
  • Teach your kids how to use my fun Greeting Card system where they can shop for the 'perfect' card, write their note, even upload a picture and let the system fill in the address, stuff, stamp and mail the card for them right from your computer. Why not try it out right now... send your child a card just thanking them for being a wonderful kid... it's on me from


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    • Watkins Lady profile image

      Watkins Lady 9 years ago

      Fantastic hub, thumbs up for your a wonderful lesson in appreciation and tips!

    • Mary K Weinhagen profile image

      Mary K Weinhagen 9 years ago from Minnesota, usa, Planet Earth

      Great, great idea for a stocking stuffer patricias!!!

      Thanks for sharing that!

    • 2patricias profile image

      2patricias 9 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

      I've always included a pack of Thank You note cards in the Christmas Stocking for my kids. Still do, even though they are both 'over 21'.

      Thanks for a thoughtful Hub.

    • julieannevanzyl profile image

      julieannevanzyl 9 years ago from Gold Coast

      Mary K, this is beautiful!! Like Kat, I wish I knew this when my daughters were growing up. And, I wish I had sent thank you notes to my Grandma every time she gave me a gift, she would've loved them!! Thanks for this wonderful story Mary K!From your friend Julieanne

    • Kat McCarthy profile image

      Kat McCarthy 9 years ago from Brantford, Ontario, Canada

      Hey that's awesome!! I wish I knew these things when my boy was growing and now I know why I should be writing thank you notes - something I have resisted as old minded thinking from another generation! LOL Me bad!

      Good Job GirlFriend!Kat

    • profile image

      Maran 9 years ago

      What a fresh gust of love!

      How much more elegant to praise the notes that do get written rather than punish the unwritten ones.

      I deeply appreciate having you in my life, you're fun to play with!