When was the last time you wrote a thank you note? Or better yet, when was the last time you had your child write one?
Some old-fashioned habits should be left in the past, but this is one to bring back and cherish–one that benefits our health and makes us happier.
How Thank You Notes Make Everyone Feel Better
Being grateful has so many benefits, but expressing gratitude to another person enhances the experience even more. When we tell someone how thankful we are for something they did for us or a gift they sent, we make them feel special. This is a way to spread happiness. Giving others praise for what they did for us causes their brain to release the happy chemical dopamine, in the same way our brain releases it as we practice the act of gratitude. The more people are thanked, the more they want to help and thank others.
When Children Can Send Thank You Notes
- Gifts. It may seem obvious, but receiving a thank you card after giving a birthday gift has become a bit passe. I am guessing that we get thank you’s from only about half the birthday parties my children attend. I think it’s important for children to learn the act of thanking someone in writing. I have tortured my seven-year-old son by making him write the thank you notes to all his friends for attending his party and giving such generous gifts. Plus, when a child receives a thank you note in the mail or in their backpack from a buddy, they are excited and the concept of gratitude is reinforced.
- Daily Helpers. We need to teach our children about all the wonderful people in their lives who help them on a daily basis. Ask them to write a note to one person each month to thank them for enhancing their life. Have them look around and identify helpers, such as a nanny or babysitter, teacher, coach, librarian, bus driver, doctor, security officer, crossing guard, or school safety.
- Random Acts of Kindness. Sometimes friends or neighbors will go out of their way to do something special for us, such as pulling the trash can up to our house or dropping off mail that ended up in their mailbox mistakenly. These are great opportunities to sit down with your child and write a brief thank you for those acts of kindness. Ask your children if there is a classmate who has done something special for them so they can write a note highlighting how meaningful it was.
Types of Thank You Notes
The more personal the thank you note, the more effective it will be on the receiving end. Yes, this means handwritten notes, no matter how much it makes everyone’s hands hurt. Think of it this way–it is a great time for your children to practice their handwriting skills. Encourage your children to add their own “stamp” to the note by drawing a picture, inserting a photograph, or including a cute poem.
If you are looking to avoid actual manual labor, then you can opt for an electronic version. However, I encourage you to still be as creative and personal as possible. Some ideas include designing your own card online, inserting a picture your child drew on the computer, or attaching an audio or video recording. Check out this new app sendthanks.com that lets you send a thank you note to anyone you want. You can even personalize notes with photos, artwork, or videos.
How do you encourage your children to give thanks to the special people in their lives?