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The Good Manners of Thank You: Push the Envelope

The Good Manners of Thank You: Push the Envelope

Found in a grandmother’s Bible was a hand-addressed envelope. Nestled inside, on a folded sheet of notebook paper, a three-year-old had written: “Thank you, Nanny and Paw Paw. Love, Grace.”

On the reverse side of the letter, a crayon drawing depicted a cat, flowers and two suns. It was a rare treasure.

Don’t you get excited when you receive a handwritten letter? A penned “thank you” note is never old fashioned or out-of-style. How do we convey a gratitude attitude to our children? First of all, BE AN EXAMPLE this holiday season.

Erica is the “fun” aunt. She is a prolific writer of cards and thank-you notes. Where did Erica learn her thoughtfulness?

“My graciousness came from my grandmother,” she said. “She wouldn’t take anything less from us.”

Lisa, a devoted mother, began gratitude lessons with her sons when they were young.

“They were busy boys, born twenty months apart, and I did a little teaching here and there between the chaos,” she said.

Lisa hugged her sons when they gave her flowers from the yard or drew pictures for her.

“I thanked them for helping me make the bed or wipe the table, or sometimes, for playing with the Lincoln Logs or train set with me so that they would realize the gift of time was valuable,” she said.

As part of an education in manners, why not enlist family and friends to write thank-you notes to your child? Let your child experience the great feeling of receiving a letter of appreciation for a gift he or she carefully selected.

A handwritten “thank you” note says, “I notice you did something for me.” Yes, it takes effort, but everything worthwhile does.

Set a time for it. Gather your resources. Put together a correspondence kit. Include colored pens, crayons, a first address book, note cards, pretty postage stamps and stickers.

A child is never too young to learn about manners after receiving a gift. While you write a “thank you” note for a Christmas gift on behalf of your toddler, have her sit next to you. Read what you are writing. Have her draw a picture or “write” her name on the card. Let the child put the stamp on the envelope and seal it. With a spring in your step, walk to the mailbox to post the letter. Talk about how happy the recipient will be to receive the letter.

If old enough to draw, perhaps suggest your child draw a picture of himself enjoying the gift that was received.

By the tween and teen years, children should be encouraged to be creative, sincere, and use their own personalities. You child is developing a skill that will someday be useful during the interview process in the business world. When that day comes, your child will stand out.

Not only is gratitude good for the recipient, but it’s also good for the child.

“Grateful young adolescents are happier, more optimistic, have better social support, are more satisfied with their school, family, community, friends, and themselves, and give more emotional support to others,” said Dr. Jeffrey Froh, co-author of “Making Grateful Kids.”

“Grateful teens are more satisfied with their lives,” he explained.

Dr. Froh stressed that grateful teens tend to be more engaged with school assignments, more involved with hobbies, and achieve higher grades than children who don’t include expressions of gratitude as an important part of life.

Good manners and expressing thanks are more than basic social obligations. This Christmas, commit to cultivating gratitude in yourself and in your children.

Check out a great resource: “Manners That Matter for Moms: The Essential Book of Life Skills for your Kids,” by Maralee Mckee.


Mary C. Fairley is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi. She is a retired Medical Technologist. Mary is a devoted wife and mother. Her favorite role is grandmother. Mary is an avid baseball, performance dance, and soccer fan.

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