Why, you ask, should your children learn to write thank-yous?(Uh, because they are not wild animals?) Correctly written, a note imparts true gratitude to the giver. While a verbal “thank you” is also appropriate, having them put their thoughts into writing memorializes the giver’s thoughtfulness, time, expense, and effort in a way that is not achieved with a verbal acknowledgement.

The skill of writing the thank-you note is not only for gifts. Your college-bound child will probably eventually request items like letters of reference from teachers, counselors, or community members. A written thank-you will be in order. After a college interview, they should send a thank-you note. A good thank-you note also impresses after a job interview. There are numerous occasions when your child should have this ability.

I have come to the unfortunate conclusion that this art has largely gone by the wayside. Too often, we are left wondering whether a gift we’ve sent was ever appreciated, or even received. It is discouraging (not to mention awkward) to go to the effort and expense to shop for and send a gift, only to have the gesture go ignored by the recipient.

Even very young children (age 4, or so) can begin by drawing a simple picture of the gift they have received and signing their names.

Children learn by our example, and this is what worked for me: Shortly after the holiday, clear an area at your table. Get out stationery, your address book, stamps, and a list of the thank-you’s for everyone to write. Kids take their cues from their parents. If you treat this task as a chore or drudgery, so will they. Treat it as an opportunity to tell those you love how much you appreciate their thoughtfulness and generosity.

If your child is not sure what to say, here is a good template:

Here is the U.S. Postal Service’s recommendation for addressing envelopes.

You’ll need to be consistent about helping for a while. Eventually, you won’t need to even remind your child to write them.

THANK YOU for reading this post!

Very truly yours,

The Curmudgeon