How to Teach Your Child the Art of a Thank You Note

The Art of a Thank You Note: Teaching Your ChildMany people, at one point or another, will need to write a thank you note.

Whether it’s for a school fundraiser, graduation, or the long list to send after one gets married, thank you notes are necessary. Some families choose to write thank you notes for birthday and holiday gifts as well – which is perfectly okay. The ability to write a thank you note is a timeless, genderless skill that one will be able to use for years to come.

When it came time to write my first thank you note- my mother presented me with a book. Oops! The Manners Guide for Girls from the American Girl Library. It instructed in all kinds of manners- from refusing icky food at dinner parties, gift-giving and thank you notes, etiquette at a variety of events – all the way to having tea with Her Majesty, the Queen. As goofy as it seemed at the time – I highly recommend this book for older children.

Here are a few ideas on how to help your child learn to write a polite thank you note. (Note: this refers to thank you notes sent after receiving a gift)

The Right Start

Thank you cards often are sold in packs of 10-20 and are available at almost any drugstore or retail store. Most are blank inside, but some may include a generic greeting inside.

If your child is older and will be writing more soon – I highly recommend the blank ones so they have an empty canvas to work with. Most say “thank you” on the outside or may have a simple watercolor of flowers- ones that can be used for a wide range of people and occasions. But if your child is still quite young – a plain sheet of handwriting paper is perfectly okay as well.

Handwriting

No one (including children) has perfect handwriting. Most people understand that.

Have your child practice writing out what they plan to say first on a practice sheet a few times– then writing out the actual card that will be sent. This includes the recipient address & your return address as well if you plan to mail it.

What to Say

This is perhaps the most difficult part of a thank you note.

Your child does not have to write a 5-page letter to Aunt Betty telling her how much they love the Mario Kart figures she got them for their birthday. Although she may love that – it’s a lot!

  • Start with a greeting

“Sup Auntie” may not go over very well. “Hey, Aunt Betty!” shows excitement and enthusiasm, along with being personal.

  • Get to the point right away.

“Thank you so much for the beautiful pink sweatshirt for my birthday! It is so soft and cozy!”  This is probably the most important part of what a thank you note says. Aunt Betty would probably be confused if she was thanked for the board game when she gifted a sweatshirt. Your child may not remember who gave them what if they received many gifts. Peek through your camera roll and see if there is a photo of them opening the gift.

  • State how the gift will be used

“I am so excited to wear this when it gets cold/with my new jeans/to the big game! The style is so me! Every time I wear it – I will think of you!” This acknowledges and compliments the items given. It also mentions how the recipient will remember who gave it to them. “I got it for my birthday from Aunt Betty!”

  • Include a little chitchat

“I got an A on my spelling test last week! Dad got a new lawnmower and Mom said we can get a cat next year! How are you? Did you try that new restaurant you wanted to try?” This part is not necessary but can fill up line space and/or update the recipient if you don’t see them often or if they are not on social media.

  • Express thanks again

Thank you again so much for the wonderful birthday gift! I really love it!” Bring the note full circle by thanking the giver a second time.

  • Sign off

Close off the note with a mention of when you will meet again “See you at Christmas/the family reunion!” or my personal favorite “See you real soon!” (Used by my dear old boss Mickey Mouse). Your child can officially sign off the note with whatever closing they prefer- whether it’s “love”, “yours truly” or “sincerely” or just simply their name.

So, there you have some easy ways to get your child on track to writing a thank you note. Like riding a bike – it takes practice.

Once they have it mastered – also like riding a bike – it’s one skill that they will never lose!

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Samantha was born and raised in Cedar Rapids. She grew up around a large, crazy, loving extended family who gets together every Sunday for lunch and to catch up. She spent six years working for The Walt Disney Company - where she met her husband directly in front of Cinderella Castle. They moved back to Iowa in 2016 to be near family and have three rambunctious kiddos who are 5, 6 &10. Autism awareness & understanding is a close cause to her heart as two of her kids have autism. When not working or spending time with family, Samantha enjoys reading, listening to music or a podcast, cooking, baking, and binge-watching shows with her husband.

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