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Writing Thank-You Notes

Kids love presents. But they don't usually love writing thanks, whether it's because they don't know what to say or it seems like just another chore. It's a good habit to start, though; thanking someone in writing helps kids learn to express gratitude and appreciate the effort the giver put into the present, says Bronwyn Fees, Ph.D., assistant professor of family studies and human services at Kansas State University in Manhattan, KS. Some tips to help get your child's pen to paper:

Set the stage

Explain that writing a note is a thoughtful thing to do when someone's been kind. Also tell her that it'll make the gift giver happy to hear how much she's enjoying the new dollhouse furniture.

Time it right

Start thank-you notes when you and your child are feeling energetic and won't be rushed. If she has many notes to write, spread out the task over several days. Make sure to begin soon after the gift is received.

Make it fun

Let her use colorful markers and paper, stickers, rubber stamps, and glitter glue.

Keep it age-appropriate

You don't have to wait until your child knows how to write well  -- she can draw a simple picture, perhaps of herself and the gift. An older child can write just a short note. If she's stuck, ask her what she does with the gift and suggest a few words or ideas to get her started.

Stress the process

Don't press her for perfect spelling, straight letters, or beautiful prose. What's most important is that she understands that gratitude and the effort put into a thank-you note are what matter most.