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Thank You Note Guidelines for Kids

Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,

I'd like to teach our two children, ages 3 & 5, to write thank you notes. Is it okay to buy pre-printed thank you cards and just have them sign (scribble) their name? They both received tons of gifts, so it'll be a chore for me to get the notes all done. I also don't remember every single gift each person gave, so I can't mention details anyway.



Dear Wondering,

It's important to teach children early on about writing thank you notes so that they will learn to appreciate the kindness of gift giving. You may have lots of people to thank, but each person has taken the time, energy, and money to buy gifts, so each deserves something more than a pre-printed thank you card with a signature.

At this young age, they could draw a simple picture to thank each person. As they get older and they should write a short note of thanks. Start with two sentences, mentioning the specific gift and how much they like it, then how generous or thoughtful the person was. The older the child, the more they can write.

To make thank you note writing more enjoyable, here are some guidelines:

1. Preplanning: Before gifts are opened, have a paper and pen ready to write down who gave what to whom. This "reference" is a must if many gifts are received or gifts were given to more than one person.

2. Have a variety of materials at hand to make it more fun: interesting stationery, colorful markers and pens, stickers, rubber stamps and inks.

3. Don't make it seem like a chore or like "homework." Let the kids listen to music or watch TV (keep the volume low) while writing or drawing, as it doesn't take a lot of concentration.

4. If there are many notes to write, spread it out over several days. It's unrealistic to try to get children to sit for long periods, and they will only learn to resent writing thank you notes.

5. Help them compose the note or drawing if they get stuck for ideas. Kids will be more inclined to write or draw if they know you're taking an active interest.