Friday, January 13, 2012

The Secret to Kids and Writing Thank You Notes

Learning to express gratitude is something that kids will eventually learn after much observation on their part of others expressing gratitude. Practicing the act of expressing gratitude can also help them to learn. A part of the learning process can be writing thank you notes when they receive a gift or card.

Of course, this is easier said than done sometimes. Kids would much rather tear through opening a stack of presents. Sitting around writing Thank You notes while the newly opened gifts sit there, not being played with, is no contest if you let the kids decide what to do.

Fortunately, we have discovered the secret to getting kids to write thank you notes. We haven't quite figured out how to apply it to the Christmas frenzy of gifts, for those of you wondering when the Christmas thank you notes will come to you. Don't worry, we are working on it. But, in the case of birthday presents, we have it down.

The secret? One present at a time. Fortunately, the custom of opening presents during the birthday party is not very common right now. So, we wait until after the party to start on the stack of presents. Of course, I include in all party invitations, that I would prefer that guests simply bring a card and no present, that presents are optional since the boys really don't need more stuff. But, we still end up with some presents. The procedure worked this way for Alex's recent birthday:

  • Alex picks a present, tells me who it is from.
  • I start writing on the card, Dear... and address the envelope
  • Alex opens the present
  • I ask Alex for his thoughts or feedback on said present and add them to the note
  • Alex signs the thank you note
  • Signing of Thank you note is rewarded with ability to open an additional present
  • Repeat

Of course, he has figured out that the last card has no incentive. So, we get to talk about why we are actually writing the cards, gratitude, being thankful for what we have, what we actually need, etc.

Thank you cards written, in the mail the same day of the party, social mission accomplished, grattitude lesson, check.

One other exercise that I want to try with the boys is, perhaps on my birthday, I'll overtly go through the process of writing them a Thank You note and post it in the mail (or just do pretend mail where it ends up in the mail box the next day) to let them know how much I appreciate their gift. This would also work with perhaps writing them a note out of the blue to let them know how much I enjoy having them as my boys, one for each of them talking about their specific individual traits that I appreciate. I hope that would get them thinking about what they appreciate about others. Who knows, maybe we will write some notes to Dan. Alex is all about how awesome Dan is right now. :)

1 comment:

natdragon said...

This is what is working for me: Munchkin asks me to dot out letters so she can trace. So she traces 'Dear X, Thank you for the y. Love, Munchkin". She is happy to trace letters and then add stickers she thinks they will like. I address the envelope and we are done. Plus, X is invariably happy to get a hand-"written" note. I am sure it won't work forever, but nothing ever does, right? I like your ideas and I am going to use them.