For the majority of kids, getting them to write something like a thank-you note resembles pure torture. It’s time-consuming, feels like a chore, and it often gets them to write to people and relatives they’re not truly fond of – haven’t we all had that annoying uncle Jim who insisted on telling endlessly boring stories? However, it all depends on how you approach the process and how you present it to your youngsters.
It’s an opportunity to nurture an attitude of gratitude that will teach your kids true values later in life, and a chance to help your kids develop their creativity through writing and expressing their feelings. Let’s see how you can make the most of this little family tradition and turn it into an enjoyable activity for kids!
Make it more fun and engaging
No child will look forward to writing a simple thank-you note if you’ll only use a simple pen or a pencil and a blank piece of paper. Where on Earth is the fun in that? Kids are drawn to colors, variety, and freedom of expression, so by introducing colors, various types of paper (think glitter, textured and embellished paper), and by using different wording you’ll stimulate their creativity.
They will forget that it’s somewhat of a responsibility, as they’ll be so immersed in the process of choosing the best color for the person for whom the note is intended for. Introduce fun stickers, stamps, if you intend to mail them, and other fun materials your youngsters can use to develop their imagination while they think of the best way to say thank you to a family member.
Talk it over
Before you jump into the writing process, you can chat for a while to see what your child truly feels. After all, this is a learning moment, both for you and your kids, as it will help you distinguish among their true feelings, find the right words to express them, and perhaps even face some of their dislikes in the family, and find a way to put a positive spin on it. If they don’t like that famous uncle Jim, why not ask if there’s anything they do like about him, or if they have a fun memory together such as a trip to the zoo?
Make sure to inspire your kids to be honest and to recognize and verbalize their emotions. Then, you can proceed to find the best words and form the best sentences in order to complete the thank-you notes and the holiday cards.
Make it meaningful
The emotions alone are more than enough to transform this chore into a fun activity that will also be a bonding experience. Use every opportunity to include your child into every part of the process, from choosing unique Father’s Day gifts for the dad, all the way to writing and decorating the note that goes with the present. When they learn to write these cards and notes and connect the idea to something positive and rewarding, they’ll be much more inclined to build a positive attitude towards the activity itself.
When they see how their dad reacts when he receives the gift and the card, they’ll surely be eager to repeat the same process next year and for the very first holiday that comes along. These fun activities are also useful for building their independence later in school, and helping them develop healthy motor skills.
Let them take the lead
If your youngsters aren’t old enough to write out the note on their own, on one hand, you should offer to help, but on the other, don’t insist on it. See if your child would prefer to express their feelings by drawing instead of writing, or if they’d accept copying your note, so that they can begin to learn letters through such activities.
After all, this can be a joint effort, where you can help them have a few practice runs with mock cards, and then let them choose the one they like the best. Maybe the first drawing of your family cat won’t go as planned, but have plenty of material at hand to give them time and space to practice and perfect their skills.
Turn it into a true ritual
It’s not just the glitter or the stickers that will keep your kids interested in this activity. In fact, just like watching movies or going shopping, you can use this opportunity to turn it into a family tradition worth repeating every time a holiday comes around.
You can start by setting aside an afternoon for writing your cards and notes, and make a plan to prepare some healthy snacks, home-made cookies, and juices that your little ones love. In fact, they can take part in that part of the preparation, too, if they’re old enough. That way, they’ll be able to take a break, munch on their favorite treats and build a positive attitude towards this wonderful activity.
Since not all kids are eager to pick up the pen and express their hidden Hemingway, these occasion-specific tasks can serve as the perfect inspiration to expand their vocabulary, develop their motor and cognitive skills, and most importantly, develop that attitude of gratitude.