Teaching Children to Write Thank You Notes

Monday, December 12, 2022 by Catherine Gilliland | December Tips

Research documents several benefits from the habit of writing thank you's - and to more people than Grandma!

Even by age five, studies demonstrate that gratitude is linked to children who are happy. 

In studies of middle school children, researchers found that those who practiced gratitude were more optimistic, had better social support, and were more satisfied with their schools, friends, families, and themselves.

A third study of high school students showed that teens who embodied gratitude practices were more satisfied with their lives, were more engaged in schoolwork and hobbies, and had better grades. They also were shown to be less depressed and envious of their schoolmates. 

Teaching kids how to write a thank you note, and helping them remember to do so, will serve them throughout their lives. The challenge is showing them how. By using a thank you note template for kids or following a sample, children of all ages can not only get started, but can also begin building a very important habit of expressing gratitude before adulthood. 

Using Thank You Note Templates:

Using a thank you card template or a gratitude letter template for students is a great way to start building this very important habit, especially for younger kids. Here are some reasons why: 

  • They have a guide throughout the writing process. 

  • They are shown what the card should sound like and how it should look. 

  • With a basic structure given to them, children can feel free to add their unique voice, which will make the thank you card more genuine. 

  • A template also gives kids ideas of what to say in a thank you card, which helps inspire their own ideas, and helps to make them more personal. 

Thank you notes are a great way to help children start expressing gratitude, and using a sample thank you letter for kids is an effective method for getting them started. And, perhaps even more importantly, when children learn to express gratitude, they tend to feel it, too. 

How Kids Can Write a Personalized Thank You Note

Does your child want to write a thank you note from scratch? Encourage them to craft creative thank you notes from kids. Another idea is to snap a photo of the child as they open or are enjoying the gift and include it with the thank you note.  Consider gifting thank you cards and stamps as one of the gifts you give your child for birthdays and the holidays.

Here’s a few tips to transform thank-you note writing into a "return gift" and less of a chore:

  • Keep your expectations age appropriate.  When the kids are younger, create a template for them that they could fill in with their own words.  Print it out, fill it in and then send it.  Lay the foundation for the years to come, and minimize the whining that comes from cramped crayon clutching little hands. The template could go something like this:


Dear  XXXX,
Thank you for the _________.  I really love it.


  • As children become older, encourage them to follow a little more complicated template. Brainstorm with your child: 

    • Tell the giver what makes them special to you. 

    • Thank them for the gift. 

    • Tell them how they plan to use it. 

    • Tell them a little personal information {important for grandparents who live out of town}.  

    • Wish the gift-giver well.  

    • Reiterate thank-you. 

    • Sign off.

  • If thank-you’s are painful, encourage kids to complete so many per day.  Maybe 2 per day, with the goal of mailing them by Friday…or something like that.

  • Teach kids the art of evasion AND appreciation.  Even if they don’t LOVE the hand-knitted booties great-aunt Gladys sent them, they can still appreciate the effort she went to and the thought behind them.  Teach them to write a thank-you for the sentiment.  

    • Example:  Thank you for the hand-knitted slippers.  I know you must have put in a lot of time to make those, and it means a lot to me that you care so much.  Also, I don’t know if you knew this, but my favorite color is blue, so how perfect that they are blue.  {No lies, of course, only gratitude.}

  • Show your kids how important it is by setting a time aside for it.  You probably have your own thank-you’s to write.  Set aside a time where you can ALL sit down and write them.  Make snacks, turn on music or a family favorite movie, and get to work.  You can make it fun{ner} and not completely painful.

When it comes to kids’ thank you notes, no matter how big or small, a handwritten note for a thoughtful gift or experience can go a long way in showing appreciation for a family member, teacher, or friend. The post-holiday season is the perfect time to give these thank you note ideas for kids a try!  


How to Write Thank You Notes for Kids

Teaching Children to Write Thank You Notes