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10 Dos and Don'ts for getting Kids & Children to write Thank You Notes, Cards & Letters

"You are not going... with me to the mall, until you finish writing your thank you notes," said Mrs Maxwell.
Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Writing Thank-You Notes by Peggy Gifford

10 tips for navigating this important but often unpopular task. Yes, many of these suggestions demand some effort from the parents, but won't it be nicer for everyone if thank you notes get written without stress?
1. DO try to make writing thank you notes creative and fun. Get out the best pens, pretty paper etc. and allow the kids to pick some favorite music to work to. Following occasions where everyone has received gifts, make writing thank you notes a family project. Pick a night when everyone is free and work on those notes together.

2. DO be flexible. If your child hates to write, but loves to draw then allow them to send a thank you picture (perhaps with just a line or two of thanks on the back). Or offer to help them take a nice photo of them playing with / wearing the gift and send it with a short greeting in place of a longer note. If your child is resisting writing notes, but is the chatty type, then a phone call may be a good substitute for a thank you note in some circumstances.

3. DON'T forget rewards! Promise children a pizza evening, a movie with popcorn or other treat... to be enjoyed just as soon as those thank you notes are in the mail. With older children, consider bribes as a last resort after all, Auntie Susan will never know that her charming thank you note was produced under duress.

4. DO set a good example. If your kids see you writing your own thank you notes, they'll feel a lot less resentful about having to do the task themselves.

5. DO consider getting hold of a copy of Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Writing Thank-You Notes. Your kids will identify, and as they always say a sorrow shared is a sorrow halved!

6. DON'T force your children to write all their notes in one mammoth session. Sure it may 'get them all out of the way', but it will also make your children hate writing thank you notes with a passion. Instead, divide the task up into several sessions, perhaps with a little reward after each batch of notes is completed.

7. DO allow siblings who have received gifts from the same person combine their thanks into a single note. Each child can write a few sentences of their own, and take turns writing the beginning and end of the note(s).

8. DON'T make your children write a thank you note to grandma (who lives with you) or the next door neighbor (who they see everyday). No doubt they have enough notes to write already, and people they see everyday surely won't mind a big hug and verbal thanks in place of a card. This applies to letters to Santa too unless of course the child wants to write him a thank you letter!

9. DO consider becoming the 'custodian' of any gift that requires a thank you note, and don't allow it to be played with (or, in the case of money, to be spent) until the note has been written, sealed and put into the mail. Yes, it's a bit mean, and some parents will only want to use it as a last resort, but in cases where nothing else has done the trick, it may be worth trying.

10. Finally, DO try to suggest to Aunt Mary et al that they give your child a call to acknowledge their thank you note. While it's not customary to respond to thank you notes, children will appreciate knowing that their efforts are appreciated, and it will make the task of writing thank you notes appear more worthwhile next time.


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