How to get your kids to write thank you cards & learn a bit about gratitude

on Thu 11 Jul

It's March and the stack of half-written Xmas thank you cards finally finds its way to the bin, embarrassed and slightly ashamed. That's when I thought enough is enough. Luckily I came across an idea that turned things around.

I had just finished listening to a great book by Esther Wojcicki called How to Raise Successful People: Simple Lessons for Radical Results. She talks a lot of good sense and makes a real point about helping kids become independent self-sufficient adults. One thing she always did for her kids was to have them write thank you notes for gifts. So why was it so bloody hard to get ours to write them.

Then inspiration struck. Why the hell was I writing a list of presents and who gave them so she could write the cards later? Why couldn't she write the list? Too busy ripping off the wrapping paper, tossing stuff aside and on to the next one. MADNESS!!!!!

First I thought maybe, get her to write the list, take some time and responsibility to appreciate the kindness of friends and family. Then it struck... screw the list, write the flipping cards!

So that's what we did. Next birthday, new rules:

1) Open as many presents as you like

2) Open them as quickly as you like

3) You can't open a present until you've written the card for the one you just opened

Sure, some resistance, but in the end, that's exactly what she did. Cards in the post the next day! No more guessing who got what, no more embarrassingly late cards.

Bonus, she remembers who got her what and she spent time appreciating each gift. The act of writing it down seems to have helped stick it in her brain. 

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