3 Ways to Teach Kids to Respond, “Thank You!”

3 Ways to Teach Kids to Respond Thank You! Even When You Don’t Mean It! Plus a FREE Download!

Little kids get reminded by their parents all the time: “Say please.” “Say thank you.” This is how we start teaching politeness. Politeness and manners are such important social skills!  Read along for 3 ways to teach and encourage saying ‘Thank you’ even when we don’t mean it.

free download, manners, perspective-taking, autism, speech therapy

When friction develops, manners can keep a situation calm enough to talk it out instead of fighting. In normal everyday life, it is practice beginning to be able to take another’s perspective.

Think about it- who does saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ benefit? The speaker or the listener? Obviously, the listener or we wouldn’t have to work so hard to get kids into the routine of saying it!

Although they may say it faithfully as a learned routine, children with autism may have a difficult time understanding why it is important. Even more difficult- saying thank you when you don’t like the gift!

To help with this important skill, I have 3 ideas for you today!

social skills, manners, politeness, autism, speech therapy

1. PRACTICE the ROUTINE of Responding Thank You.

Young or nonverbal children can benefit from practicing the routine. This adapted book set will let you put items that your students like and dislike in the presents to visually teach that we still say thank you. Opening presents is such a fun activity, even when it is make-believe!

Of course, having some decorated boxes to open up and see a real toy inside is a great activity to coordinate with the book. You can read more about it here.

shoebox play, autism, speech therapy, manners


Try this free game from my store.  Students identify how receiving different toys would make them feel and giving an appreciative response anyway. It’s fun practice for responding thank you!

(Kind feedback is always appreciated as a thank you!)

autism, social rules story, politeness, speech therapy

3. Explain Why We Respond Thank You

This social rules story can help your older children or students to begin to understand why it is important to say thank you for gifts we don’t really want.

The pictured page is filled in completely and can be used for bulletin boards.

The second page is a fill in the blank. You can use this page as a basis for discussion.  Or let your students fill in answers that are pertinent to their lives.

Click here to download this freebie as my way of saying, “Thank you for your support!”

Discussion questions could include:

  • Did you ever get a present that you didn’t like?
  • How did you react? What did you do or say?
  • How did the person who gave you the gift react? What did they do or say?
  • How did your reaction make them feel?
  • Is that how you want that person to feel?
  • What could you do differently next time?
  • What could you say differently next time?
  • How can you help yourself sound sincere? Sincere means you really mean it. We show that in our facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice.

You can use all of these resources at holiday time, for birthdays, or whenever your students need more practice responding thank you.


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I’m Linda, an SLP who loves helping you build effective communication skills for your students using strategies and visuals. Pictures are time consuming, so let me make your life easier!

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