It’s so important for thank you notes with kids, to teach them to stop and thank others!
Now that we are couple of weeks into January and the excitement of Christmas and the pure giddiness of the influx of presents is wearing off, I thought I would talk a little about children giving thanks.
My kids and I have slowly made it a practice as they are able to articulate and express thanks, to write thank you notes to the relatives after holidays and birthdays. My son just turned 4 and my oldest daughter is 2, so sometimes this is interesting, but here is our progression of what we have done.
Last year, I simply used Word Art on my computer to write “Thank you” in giant bubble letters and let them color it. I folded it to resemble a large card and wrote my thank you notes to the relatives inside.
By my son’s 4th birthday, he was able to dictate his notes to me and then I wrote them on stationary. I started by telling/showing him the gift that was given, and then I encouraged him to say, “Thank you for ________. I like it because_________. I’m excited about it because of ___________.” And so on.
By Christmas this year, I was ready to loosen the reigns a bit and see how the kids did. My 2 year old is unusually bright, and after watching her brother, she was ready to jump in and take part as well.
I printed several of THESE (Thank you note Template) thank you notes I made. The kids took charge of coloring them individually and eagerly asked the favorite colors of each relative who would be receiving them, so I was sure to write “Dear ________,” at the top as they finished each one so I could keep track. ☺
Next, I had them dictate their notes and I wrote them down word for word—or VERY close to it. Most of the time, their comments were meaningful and fitting, but I just have to share a particularly funny note from my sometimes overly dramatic daughter.
Thank you for giving me Kate. Kate is my favorite because I just really like Kate. I just really want to keep her forever and ever and ever! I barely play with her.
Clearly, I left this italicized phrase out of the note, but it was funny nonetheless! To her credit, she had gotten extremely sick the day after Christmas and had barely played with any of her toys at that point, but you never know what will come out of the mouth of a 2 year old! ☺
Humor aside, it’s so important to get kids actively in the habit of giving thanks at young ages. We also take pictures and videotape when they open many of their gifts so we can send them to the relatives that day. The kids know this and are accustomed to the practice.
If we don’t teach our children to give thanks at an early age, when will we teach them? Giving thanks needs to be as much a part of our life as breathing and our kids need to learn this. A thankful spirit affects our attitude as we go throughout the day, it affects our dealings with other people, the purchases we make, how well we sleep at night, and our view on pretty much everything!
Each night, we ask our children to share a blessing from that day. It can be something they received, something they did or enjoyed, or just something they’re thankful for. We then sing the doxology which begins, “Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!” My kids look forward to this time all day and are quick to remind me if I miss it in the craziness of getting them to bed. We have spent much time in those moments before bed (on the calmer nights) discussing the meaning behind each phrase of the doxology and why we give thanks. They have memorized Bible verses on giving thanks, and have learned to tell others “thank you” whenever needed.
I’m not saying we “have it all together” when teaching our kids to give thanks, but I do think that as parents we need to be intentional about teaching them to give thanks. Here is a list of things that we do that help in this area and might be helpful if you want to encourage thankful hearts in your children.
- Look for teachable moments to point out blessings throughout the day.
- When they are babies, say “thank you” each time they hand you a toy.
- Encourage them to do the same.
- Tell them who has given them a gift and encourage them to thank that person.
- Look for creative ways to thank people. With kids, you often have to think outside the box. Can they color a picture for someone, help make cookies for them, talk to them on the phone, pose for a picture with their new toy, dictate a note or email, make a craft project to give to someone…?
- Have a set time when they pray and thank God for specific things from the day.
- Teach them verses on giving thanks.
- Study Bible stories about people who gave thanks.
- Teach them what thanks means and role play what it looks like.
- As part of asking to be excused from the table, teach them to thank the cook or the provider of the food if someone bought it.
These are just a few ideas to get your mind going about ways to teach kids to be thankful and to express it to others. What are some things you’ve done with your kids?
We have so much to be thankful for, but if we don’t teach our children to look for it and express thanks, they could miss so much! Let’s seize these teachable moments while our children are young and others will be gladly affected by their actions!
I love this opportunity using thank you notes with kids to help them be more thankful!!
(For more great kid activities for toddlers and preschoolers, check out our page HERE)