The Importance of Thank you notes

Nikki Young is a writer and teaches writing workshops for children – what better person to write about the importance of thank you notes…

Do you send thank you cards on behalf of your babies?
It’s such a simple thing, isn’t it?
Receiving a handwritten note in this age of instant messaging and digitalisation.
Yes, it takes time.
Time you don’t necessarily have. And your baby doesn’t have any idea what the gift is, or who it’s from.
It’s the thought, though.
The thought that you took time out of your busy day to express your thanks. That you thought about the person who gave your baby a gift, and wanted to express your gratitude.

Gratitude plays a key part in our long-term happiness.

We’re encouraged to express gratitude for the little things we appreciate in our own lives, so why not  extend that to our friends and family? By doing this from the beginning, as your kids grow, they too will learn to appreciate what gratitude means.  Not only that, it instils in them, as sense of empathy and compassion.

Expressing your thanks is basic good manners.

If someone has gone to the trouble of buying your child a gift, showing your appreciation through a note of thanks is common courtesy. Our kids are growing up to expect things – instant gratification – as and when they want them. But we want them to grow up appreciating what they’ve got, and also, to understand the true meaning of a gift. It’s not just another toy to add to their collection, it’s something that has been given with thought, and often, love.

What to say in the note.

Start with the obvious, acknowledging thanks for the gift and how much you love it. I used to write mine as if from the baby. If it was something they could use, I would say how much I (the baby) enjoyed playing with it. If it was an outfit, I would recount an occasion when it was worn and say how smart I had looked. It’s great if you can include a photo as well. I would then finish with how lovely it was to see them (or to have received the gift) and that I looked forward to seeing them soon.

When the kids are older.

Thank you note from young child

Up until they are confident writers, it’s best not to expect anything other than a scribble as a way of signing their name, or you can ask them to write their name if they can. You can also get them to draw a picture.

As a writer and creative writing tutor, I do, of course, see this as an ideal way to show your child the importance of writing. You can talk about the person you’re writing to. If they don’t know them very well, it’s your opportunity to say what that person means to you. If your child does know them, you can recount your memories of that person, together, and use that to come up with some creative ideas of how to thank them individually, rather than with a generic set of words.

You don’t have to give thanks for every little thing.

But gifts are important, as are visits, particularly if you haven’t seen someone for a long time, or if they’ve travelled a great distance to see you.

Try not to see it as a chore.

That way, when it comes to your kids being able to write thank you notes by themselves, they will have already learned from you, and won’t see it as an inconvenience of their time either.

Hopefully, you will have instilled in them the importance of thank you’s and they will go on to do the same with their own children one day.

Nikki Young is a writer and children’s author, who wanted to share her love of stories, and enthusiasm for writing, with children. Her Creative Writing Club, Storymakers, offers weekly groups, holiday workshops and one-to-one sessions for children aged five years, up to teens. Nikki’s aim is to put the fun back into writing by making it accessible to all. Find Nikki’s books, The Mystery of the Disappearing Underpants and Time School: We Will Remember Them, online, in Waterstones, Amazon and most other good book retailers. Connect with her on Facebook or Instagram as @Nikkiyoungwriter, or on Twitter as @nikki_cyoung.

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