Teaching the Importance of the “Thank You”


My daughter just turned 8 and we have celebrated for a month. She is so lucky. She had a party with friends, as well as a family party on both sides. Now we have to find a place for all of her new things, and we also get to write “thank you” notes. I remember writing thank you notes after every birthday and holiday. It’s a small gesture, but showing appreciation is a skill I want my kids to have.

Words matter. And in my opinion, words of gratitude are some of the most important.

I love that writing these notes mirrors what she is working on in school. Proper sentence structure, plus we are adding letter format—all of these are great skills to work on. However, I do not have the patience that teachers possess. These notes are not what I consider a parenting strength of mine.

My “thank you” note takeaways:

Not all things in parenting or childhood need to be easy or fun.

She knows that she needs to write a thank you so that people know she appreciated their present, time spent with her, time out of their day, etc. I really think this needs to be more normal. I have spent so much time trying to make this fun, and quite honestly, it doesn’t need to be. Sometimes, there is value in doing something for others.

Writing does not come easy to her.

She has a hard time focusing on the task at hand. She is a dreamer and writing’s hard for her to narrow down one idea or thought at a time. They turn into a great focus task. We narrate them first, and then she can copy her words onto a card.

This is brand new to her.

We can take it slowly. One thank you note per day is our goal. One note takes a lot of time. That’s okay. She is focusing on her handwriting, and having to do something like this is new. Slow and steady still accomplishes our goal. She is not an adult yet. These are a good reminder to me that she won’t always make her letters backwards or forget spaces between words. Things don’t always have to look perfect. Sometimes, it truly is the thought that counts.

I could easily compare her progress to other kids and I begin to doubt my abilities as a Mom.

Here is a friendly reminder that kids develop at different speeds it doesn’t make anyone more or better.

Kids do things at their own pace.

My goals do not have to be the same as hers. If doing a thank you note one at a time keeps her interest on them, then it works. Keeping her accountable to her goal helps keep her consistent. Kids might need a slower pace or more time. It is so important to teach her that sense of accomplishment from completing something start to finish.

Gratitude is a skill that needs practiced often.

At the end of every day, we have been sharing what we’re grateful for, and it is often my favorite part of the day. We started this as a way to be less self-focused and get out of bad moods, but it has helped us all to think positively about what we have.


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