The Lost Art of the Thank-You Note
November 26, 2015
Showing gratitude is one of the simplest things we can do for each other, and at the same time, it’s one of the most powerful. One article cites recent scientific findings linking gratitude to increased optimism, stress reduction and a better night’s sleep.
However, the attitude of gratitude practiced in its most humble form, the thank-you note, is a long-standing tradition with a bad reputation as a boring chore that’s, well, thankless. Writing thank-you notes is a practice of appreciation parents have to consciously reinforce. In doing so, children can reap the sometimes unexpected benefits and learn a powerful lesson in being thankful. These notes are about more than just telling your grandmother that you unequivocally loved the hand-knitted sweater she made you (even if it’s kind of itchy). They offer an important lesson in compassion, empathy and kindness. Even Jimmy Fallon sits down weekly to write thank-you notes on “The Tonight Show.”
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, we wanted to share some tips for how to start encouraging a thank-you note writing tradition in your home, or continue to have fun with it if your children are already perfecting their thank-you note writing in your family.
- Find opportunities. Thank-you notes don’t have to be reserved just for birthday presents, Christmas gifts or times of receiving toys; opportunities for note-writing can include great friendships, thanks for attending a family party or even appreciation for a yummy dinner.
- Have fun with correspondence! Some photo printing companies like Shutterfly offer custom thank-you notes specifically for kids. Check this link out to find custom stationery options for girls and boys to make note-writing more fun!
- Take a hand as designated writer. For kids who haven’t learned to write yet, or are just learning their letter-writing, a parent can stand in as their designated writer. Transcribe a little one’s true feelings of appreciation as the dictate them to you out loud. There is nothing like reading a personally-concepted sentiment from a little one in the family. Encourage your little one to draw a picture on the side as a contribution to the note you write on their behalf.
- Give and receive. Encourage your family members to also send hand-written notes to your children so they can experience the fun and satisfaction of receiving notes and remember those feelings next time they are sending a note to someone else.
In the digital age we live in, there is something to be said about conveying emotion without capitalized acronyms and chirpy emoticons on a mobile device or in an email. For the addressee, they receive an envelope they get to open, paper they get to feel, imperfect writing they get to read, and perhaps most importantly: they receive a message in another person’s voice, declaration and style – a piece of them the recipient can hold onto forever, or just be thankful for.