Manners Monday: Write Thank You Notes
I’m a big fan of thank you notes. For one, they’re something nice to get in the mail vs all of the other junk. But they’re also a chance for us to sit down, focus and express gratitude for something nice that another person has done. People’s lives are so crazy busy or distracted, or both. When someone finds the time to do something nice for you, or your kids, or your family, whether it’s a wrapped gift or a ride to the airport or a birthday cake, it should never go un-thanked. If they could take the time to do something nice, you can take the 5 minutes that it takes to get out a note card, write a sentence or two, address it, stamp it, and throw it in the mailbox. For this week’s Manners Monday we’re teaching our kids to be grateful for the kindness of others by writing thank you notes.
On a separate note, it’s been proven that doing something nice for someone else actually makes us less depressed, more motivated and more successful. I think that thank you notes fall into the category of doing something nice for someone else and it is truly so simple to do. You can do it any hour of the day and you don’t have to leave your house to do it (if you already have your supplies). Check out this article on why paying it forward it good for your health.
Besides, there are so many pretty note cards out there that it’s fun to have a reason to use them! Here’s how to get your kids in on the fun.
This week’s rule
Write more thank you notes
Put it into practice
Toddlers 1 – 3 years old:
Sure, this means a little bit more work for you. But it will pay you back over and over again as you get older. When your kids move out, they’ll (hopefully) send you thank you notes for your care packages and eventually the gifts that you send to their kids. But, woah woah woah, let’s not make them 35 when they’re not even 3! Just start out by modeling good behavior and explaining it to them. Say, “I got this gift” or “Grandma was really nice for doing X, so I’m going to send her a thank you note” You can explain in more detail what a thank you note is if your little one is ready. You know your kiddo better than I do. And, if the thank you note is for something that directly affected your little one i.e. a gift or an experience then have your little one contribute to the note. Keep some stickers handy for them to add to thank you notes and give them a crayon or two to decorate it, too. You can address the envelope, affix the stamp and write the official “Thank you, Grammy!” But, leave the rest up to your little one. They’ll love putting the envelope in the mail box! By getting them in on the fun at an early age you’ll eliminate a few arguments over it later.
Kids 3 – 9 years old:
These kids are ready to be doing most of the work themselves. The same instructions as above will work for your older kids. But, you can explain how great it feels to give thanks to someone for the nice things that they do. Go into more detail, sighting some of my explanation above. Take them to the store and let them pick out their very own stationery, pens or pencils, stickers, etc. that they’ll use exclusively for writing thank you notes. Go online or to the post office to pick out special stamps as well. Put it all in a special case or drawer and the next time that someone does something nice for them, remind them that it’s time to go to their special thank you box and write a note to make Grammy (or whoever) feel good about having done something nice for them. Always start a thank you note with a sentence that literally thanks whoever for the kindness that they’ve given. Then, make it personal by adding a sentence that expresses what makes it special to you and/or how you plan to use/remember it. End with a line about how you hope to continue the relationship: “I can’t wait to see you again on Monday!” “Let’s facetime when you get this note!” “I miss you already.” And then add your closing and signature. For the younger end of this age spectrum, you might find some hybrid between this and the above works better for you. As long as you get your kids started and work towards them enjoying this exercise, you’re off to a good start!
Read all of the Monday Manners posts and teach your kids to be better people one week at a time.