Thank-You Notes: More Than Courtesy
The days after Christmas can have a sort of serenity to them. All of the shopping is actually done. All of the parties have been hosted. Family has come and gone. There are a few days until New Years with nothing much to do. It’s a great time for some family bonding time. One of the things you can do with your children is write thank-you notes.
You may have bad memories of doing this exercise as a child if you were forced to sit down and handwrite notes for what felt like hours. It’s important to realize, though, that times have changed. Whether it comes in the form of a printed note, an email, or a handwritten card, writing thank-you notes has distinct benefits. You may be a romantic for the power of handwritten notes, but that doesn’t mean your kids will feel the same way. Be prepared to compromise; a less-than-perfect note is still better than none at all.
Even if you want to keep the magic of Santa Claus alive for your children, they no doubt got gifts from relatives and friends. Or, they can address their notes to “Santa Claus” and you can pass them along to the appropriate people. The important part is sitting down and writing them. There are three key benefits for kids when it comes to writing these notes.
1.) Creating investment
It’s very easy for kids to get into the mindset of immediate gratification at Christmas time. They got a few things they’ve been dreaming about all year and had to do nothing to get them. This can create a problematic expectation for the rest of the year. By writing thank-you notes, kids put some work into their presents. That can create a feeling of ownership in the gift, which may help prevent the impulse to stick it in the closet after playing with it for only a few hours.
2.) Exercising politeness
Like most habits, being polite takes work. It’s challenging to build those instincts of good manners, so we need to practice it constantly, especially while we’re young. Teaching kids to write thank-you notes now will make it easier for them to get in the habit later in life. This will come in handy when it comes time for things like school and job interviews, where a well-written thank-you note can be the difference between success and failure. You may also find that acts of courtesy spill over. A child who writes thank-you notes may be more likely to say “please” and “thank you” in other areas of life.
3.) Practicing gratitude
More than anything, writing thank-you notes forces children to reflect on the good fortune they’ve received. This exercise in gratitude can help calm some of the post-Christmas letdown. By actively reflecting on the things they got, kids will have less mental energy to focus on the things they didn’t get or still want. Developing gratitude as an active reflection is an important skill for preventing excessive spending later in life. Writing thank-you notes can be an excellent way to practice this vital skill.
Your Turn: Thank-you notes build bridges and touch hearts. When has a thank-you note lifted your spirit? Share your story in the comments below!
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