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Did you know that writing a "thank you" note is a simple, proven way to boost a child's gratitude? That's what researchers from the University of California at Davis and Southern Methodist University have found. But they also discovered that being thankful might be the key to raising your child's happiness and well-being. While most of us agree that writing "thank you" cards is a habit of gratitude we should encourage, getting many kids to write them without the whines and complaints is often the problem. So here are a few fun (and sneaky) tricks to getting your kids to write "thank you" for those holidays presents...
Set expectations for gratitude.
Be clear and upfront this year. Any present--regardless of the price or size--deserves a "thank you" card. If your kids hear those expectations now, they'll be less likely to put up a battle later.
Enforce the "write then play" rule.
Implement one simple family rule: "You must write the thank you note first, and then you may use the gift." Believe me, that mandate speeds up the writing process.
Set age appropriate guidelines.
A young child can dictate his comments and only needs to sign his name. School age kids should use this rule from The Etiquette and Leadership Institute at Athens, Georgia: "The total number of sentences in a thank you note should be half the child's age." So a ten-year-old should be expected to write a minimum of five complete sentences.
Turn on kids' creative juices.
Another way to get kids more involved in the "thank you" writing process is to ask them to come up with their own unique way of thanking Grandma. A few creative "thank you" card ideas for kids might include:
- Make a video just for that person that expresses appreciation.
- Take a photo of the child wearing or using the gift. The developed four-by-six inch print makes an instant postcard; the child just writes a brief note on the back and addresses and mails it.
- Write the thank you on a piece of card stock and then cut it into a few pieces like a jigsaw puzzle.
- Spell out the thank you use M&M's or alphabet cereal glued on a piece of cardboard.