What’s better than receiving a hand-written thank-you note?
We’d say it’s getting a text from a thrilled relative or friend who just opened your child’s sweet thank-you card.
Recent studies show that writing by hand helps kids understand details and even develop new neural connections in the brain.
And of course when a child learns early to write thank-you notes, she’ll have an easier time remembering to do that after job interviews – which, other studies show, has a good effect on interviewers’ feelings about applicants.
But getting the kids interested in writing can be a hassle when it feels like a chore. Here are some tips for making thank-you notes fun!
- Let your child pick out the card. He might want the bumblebee card; she might want the card with the doggie on the front – lay out a selection of three to five from which the child can choose.
- Before there’s any formal writing, talk to your child about the gift. If the present is a game, what does she like about playing it? If the gift is an experience, what does he remember most? If the present is a gift card, what is she thinking about purchasing?
- Have your child write a draft and read it out loud to you. Too intense? Ask your child to read it out loud in the voice of his favorite character.
- Offer a selection of pens, markers, crayons, stickers, glitter and other ways to personalize the thank-you card for your kid.
- Make the length appropriate to the age. The littlest kids can pick out the best pen color, dictate a one to three sentence thank-you note and then fill in the rest of the card space with coloring, while older kids can create longer narratives about what they’re doing with their gifts and their lives.
- Help your child see that genuine is the way to go. If your kid doesn’t like the gift, you can help her write a simple thank-you sentence and then add a question or two that indicate interest in the giver’s life – “Dear Uncle Tomas: Thank you so much for the Boynton board books you sent for my 8th birthday. I am enjoying reading them to my baby brother. What did you like to read when you were 8?”
- Learn the fun of snail mail! Write the address together. The address can be in fun colors but still be accurate and legible to the post office if you help out. If you put a special stamp on before the address, your child can also color-coordinate the decorations with the stamp. Have your child either hand the card to your letter carrier or drop it in the mailbox himself.
There’s no need for external rewards from you for the thank-you notes. Remember, the reward is already there – the gift, plus the line your child has formed, heart to heart, from giver to receiver.