Should parents insist their kids write a thank you card?

Keisha Cox, LCSW, MS weighs in on the subject

Why kids should write thank you cards

We asked Poughkeepsie social worker, Keisha Cox, LCSW, MS, and mother of four about teaching kids to write “thank you” notes.

Why should children write thank you notes?

Taking the time out to write a thank you note, gives a child time to reflect on who gave them the gift and how they feel about getting it.

What is it teaching them?  

They learn how to express gratitude. Writing the note allows them to really reflect about how they truly feel about receiving the gift. They realize that their kind words can be a non-material gift that they give in return.  It also reminds them that someone took the time and effort to give them a gift and that should be appreciated.

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How much should the parent get involved?

The younger the child, the more involved the parent needs to be. Even with the younger ones, I tell them what I am writing or ask them what they want me to write and review it with them. This gives them some sense of ownership and teaches them how to put their words together so that they eventually learn how to do it on their own. For all my children, I try to help them keep track (usually with a written list) of who gave them which gifts, because they often don’t remember. I prefer the old fashion “thank you” card, especially since many of my older relatives are not very computer literate.

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I also like the idea that the card is something tangible. However, my teenage children have gotten a few e-gift cards which I thought would be okay to acknowledge with an email or text message.