January is National Thank You Month, a great time to write thank you notes for all of those great gifts that have been opened, used and maybe even broken already. Back in the day, many families had the rule that you couldn’t use any gift until you’d written a thank you note for the gift.
Was this the rule in your family as it was in mine? There seems to be an unwritten rule these days that an e-card or a text message is the same as a thank you note but many of us grandmothers disagree. When I Googled, “Are thank you notes obsolete?”, there were over a million hits, including a link to Paper Direct that gives step-by-step directions to writing a thank you note.
The answer to the question depends on who you ask but this mom and grandma says that thank you notes will never be obsolete. Here are 10 reasons to write thank you notes. Feel free to use any or all of them to get your kids to write their thank you notes this weekend.
Writing a thank you note teaches your child gratitude for the gift. You may know that your child likes the gift and so may the person who gave it but putting the sentiment into words will help your child appreciate the gift more.
A thank you note shows respect for the person who gave the gift. Whether the giver is a family member, friend or neighbor, they will appreciate the gesture.
A thank you note shows that the giver is valued by the child. In today’s world where people often seem to value stuff more than people, this is important.
Writing thank you notes teaches good manners and is an expected social grace, especially in the South. But no matter where you live, good manners are timeless.
A written thank you note helps kids to verbalize their feelings. I don’t mean a 10 word note, but rather a note that describes the gift, tells how it will be used, includes a personal message and says thanks. As your child writes the words, he will have to think about how the gift makes him feel, not just what it is.
Writing a thank you note teaches appreciation for the gift. That’s not the same thing as gratitude but it’s very similar. Gratitude is being happy to receive a gift but appreciation is being happy to receive this specific gift.
Handwritten notes, cards and letters help build writing skills and help develop good handwriting. Your child will need to know how to write for her entire life. Since cursive writing seems to be a thing of the past, kids seem to have given up writing things by hand. A handwritten note also shows that you care.
Saying thank you is a valuable life skill. The world is filled with people who seem to feel entitled to whatever they want. You may work with some of them. Do you really want your child to be one of them?
The last two reasons may not make much sense to you but ask someone a generation or more older than you and they will agree.
Writing thank you notes builds character. The Urban Dictionary defines builds character as, “Creating strength within yourself to complete tasks that you normally would not appreciate doing when you don’t have someone forcing your actions.” The second definition will give most parents a chuckle, “A term used by parents and guardians to give certain weight to doing tasks not normally enjoyed or wanted.”
And the final reason for writing thank you notes is that generations of grandmas can’t be wrong. Your grandma told you to write thank you notes because her grandma told her and so on and so on. Think about other things that your grandma told you and how timeless they are now.
So pull out a pen and paper, pick up a box of blank thank you notes or make your own cards using stampers or stickers. If your child is too young to write, let her draw a picture and you can write her words on the bottom of the picture. The thank you note will be treasured by the giver of the gift and your parenting skills will be praised to everyone in sight.
But more importantly, your child will learn a valuable life lesson: to appreciate and be grateful for all that he’s been given.