Do you allow your children to receive gifts without any expectation of writing thank you notes in return?
Is having your kids write thank you notes optional?
How do I know the practice of writing thank you notes is optional in a lot of homes today? Because I rarely receive them.
It’s up to you to make the practice of appreciation an expectation in your family.
Of course, parents you’ll have to buy the cards, set out the pens, and coax your son or daughter into actually sitting down and writing their gratitude out.
5 Reasons Why Having Your Kids Write Thank You Notes Shouldn’t Be Optional
1. It’s inconsiderate not to do it
It’s that simple. If someone sends you a gift, it shouldn’t be optional to let them know that not only did you receive it, but that you appreciate it. We should strive to express gratitude to those who bring goodness into our world. I know that receiving gifts equates to goodness in my kids’ world.
2. It’s a way to consider the feelings of others
We must always look for ways for our children to get out of their me, me, me mentality. Writing thank you notes is one simple way we can combat entitlement in our kids. Having them acknowledge their appreciation for a gift or gesture through mailing a handwritten thank you note is a minor thing to ask of them.
3. Teaches them to get off technology and back to the basics of pen and paper
None of my kids eagerly sit down and write thank yous on their own. They absolutely would rather send a text of gratitude and get it over with because that doesn’t require the effort that handwriting does.
We can’t always let our children take the easy way out and instead must instill the importance of the handwritten note and penmanship. Sometimes I do let my sons and daughter text their friends their thanks since that’s how they normally communicate in their daily relationship with them anyway.
4. Brings them into a closer relationship with family and friends
Kids learn not to take their loved one’s efforts for granted when thank you note writing isn’t optional. It is an absolute blessing to have people in your life who care and love you enough to donate to your cause or buy you a gift. Let’s teach our kids to not take their relationships for granted.
When our kids act like they don’t have time to write a note of thanks, I tell them, that’s ok, I’ll just let so and so know that there’s no need to send you anything else ever again because you’re too busy to appreciate it anyway. That usually gets them writing from the heart pretty quickly.
5. Thank you notes are a gift to receive
Who doesn’t love receiving the surprise of a little note tucked in with a pile of bills and sales flyers? Nobody knows you’re thankful unless you say so. When you take the time to write it down, there’s no denying how you feel.
People really notice when your kids send thank you notes. I recently received thank yous in return for my kids thank you cards. We can’t forget that a simple gesture goes a long way.
Guidelines I have for my kids when writing thank you notes-
- Our kids aren’t supposed to use the gift, spend the money, or deposit that check until a thank you note has been written. It’s a good rule of thumb because if too much time passes, they’ll forget to write them at all. Having this expectation in place simply makes writing thank you notes a part of your normal routine.
- What each child writes must be unique to that person and the gift that they received. I tell my kids that if I could send their note to anyone on their list, then they need to start over. If you’re going to take the time to write a note, then take the time to personalize it.
- Many times I have let one child write the note and the others have jumped in and just added their signature to the bottom of those written words. Fine. Other times I believe more effort is required.
- The etiquette that we adhere to is that if we open a gift in front of someone and thank them to their face, then there is no need to write and send a thank you. Certain gifts or experiences still deserve a heartfelt follow-up thank you, even if you’ve already expressed gratitude in person or over the phone, email, or text.
One of our sons recently asked friends and family members to donate to his email basketball team fundraiser at the beginning of the season. The donation request was sent out through one of those fundraising websites where you plug in the recipient’s emails and they each receive the same general message about donating to the cause. It makes the uncomfortable ask a little bit more comfortable because it’s pretty hands-off.
Of course, those people that read the email and felt compelled to help the team deserve a handwritten thank you. My son sighs as he begins to write, but this task makes him realize that you can’t just receive without showing gratitude. It is a two-way street.
“But they already got an email thanking them after they sent in their donation,” he says. True, but was that email personally from you or generated through the website? If you want to consume, you must contribute.
There will always be opportunities we miss to send our gratitude, but writing thank you notes should be a habit that we strive to instill in our homes.
We can not let busyness stop us from expressing gratitude. I let my kids know that they are never too cool, too busy, or too anything to take time out of their schedule for someone else. I’m sure when they go off to college or move out on their own, they will resort to the thank you text or forget to thank you at all. They’re only human. At least I’ll know that I made the effort to instill this practice of gratitude in them when they were growing up in our home and just maybe it will carry on.