Now is a perfect time to write a thank-you note!

After the holidays is a great time to practice gratitude and communication skills through thank-you writing.

There are many reasons to write a thank-you note. Photo credit: Sara Keinath | MSU Extension

There are many reasons to write a thank-you note. Photo credit: Sara Keinath | MSU Extension

The end-of-year holiday time can be joyous and stressful all at the same time, as we rush from one holiday party to another and spend time with loved ones near and far. With so many gifts being received last month during the holiday season, now is a great time to practice gratitude as well as the time-honored skill of written communication by writing a thank-you note.

There are many reasons to write a thank-you note this time of year. For instance, if someone gave you a gift, in person or through the mail, it is appropriate to acknowledge that they thought of you and spent time and money to brighten your holiday. Another reason to send a thank-you note would be for someone who hosted a holiday get-together, as they took the time and effort to provide a fun experience for people and may also have provided space and food.

Writing thank-you notes is an appropriate activity for all ages! Younger children may need assistance with the actual writing, however letting the child think through what words to write in the note will help them process and understand gratitude. A “fill in the blank” thank-you note can also be great for younger youth, as they can fill in sections without becoming overwhelmed as a new writer. Older children and teenagers might also benefit from a template thank-you, to make sure they don’t forget anything.

To help make the task of thank-you writing easier and more understandable, Michigan State University Extension has many resources, including a Michigan 4-H bulletin that outlines how to write a perfect thank-you note. If some find the template too constricting for their creativity, consider allowing them to draw a picture or write a song to express their feelings.

Practice is key to becoming good at anything. While children’s first attempts at writing thank-you notes may not be perfect, it is important to provide these learning opportunities so they can practice and become better at their writing and communication skills. With time and practice, youth can feel confident in their writing and their ability to express themselves, both of which are skills they will be able to use long after the new toy they received has faded from memory.

In addition to writing thank-you notes, children of all ages may benefit from a family or club discussion about expressions of gratitude. Consider leading a conversation about how we feel when others thank us for something we have done. These conversations can also including helping youth to make the connections between manners, how we treat others and how we are treated in the future.

Michigan 4-H has many resources to help youth learn skills such as these that they will use for their whole lives. Covering topics such as writing thank-you notes and preparing for careers, there are also tools to assist adults who want to facilitate these skills with youth.

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