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National Thank-you Note Day: Teaching kids to show gratitude

National Thank-you Note Day: Teaching kids to show gratitude

Did you know gratitude might be crucial to compassion, empathy and even happiness?

“Grateful kids tend to be much more satisfied with their lives,” says Jeffrey Froh, an assistant professor of psychology and the director of the Laboratory for Gratitude in Youth at Hofstra University, in Hempstead, New York. “They do better in school and are less materialistic, less depressed, and less envious. Their relationships are much stronger and more supportive.”

Earlier this month, we wrote an article about ways to raise grateful kids and in honor of National Thank-you Note Day we wanted to add one more – teaching kids to write thank-you cards.

Tips for writing thank-you notes with kids

Whether your children are grateful for new toys at Christmas or just for a friend taking the time to visit, encourage them to write a thank-you note. The time spent writing the note makes kids think about the great things in their lives and the recipient will love being appreciated.

Unfortunately, thank-you notes can sometimes be viewed as a chore. The following tips will ease the process, teach kids to appreciate what they have been given and maybe even help your kids enjoy writing thank-you notes.

  • Make a list – After a big event, like a graduation, it is easy to forget someone, so make a spreadsheet with names, addresses and the gifts. This will ensure you buy enough supplies and thank people for the correct gift. It also means you can give the list to your older kids and let them work on the notes without you there.
  • Don’t automate the process – One trend in thank-you notes is for parents to take pictures of their child with each gift at a birthday party and then send another adult to go print photo cards. They then hand these thank-you cards to parents when they pick up their kids from the party. While it is efficient, it’s insincere and the child does not learn anything about gratitude.
  • Get the right supplies – Purchase everything you need before getting started; you don’t want a pile of cards sitting on your counter for weeks because you haven’t had time to buy stamps.
  • Write about it – While it can be more time consuming, make sure your kids write about what made the gift special. Have them write about what they plan to do with the toy or where they can’t wait to wear their new outfit.
  • Teach kids to appreciate year-round – Just because a gift is old, doesn’t mean it’s unappreciated. Teach your kids to take notice of gifts year-round and have them send pictures of them using the gift to the giver or write a letter about using the gift.
  • Send thank-you notes to each other – Send your child a thank-you note or have siblings send each other notes. This will teach everyone to appreciate the little things you do for each other and show your children what it feels like to be appreciated.

Now that the holidays are over, put together a spreadsheet for each family member and write your cards together. Writing and addressing notes may be time consuming, it is an amazing way to teach gratitude and make others feel appreciated.

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