Parents are failing to make their children write thank you notes, according to Barnaby Lenon, who is chairman of the Independent Schools Council in Britain. Mr Lenon, is a former headmaster at public school Harrow, whose alumni includes Winston Churchill and Benedict Cumberbatch.

He said that the tradition of writing thank you notes for Christmas or birthday presents was in decline among children because of “lax discipline” from parents. He said that children today had an “attrition of manners” meaning that few felt the need to show their gratitude.

Mr Lenon, who has also taught at Eton, blamed modern technology for the trend, saying that families tended to send off an email or a few text messages, but that this was not the same. He added: “I would be keen for parents to think about the significance of thank you letters. It always has been good manners and it is part of what makes for a civilised society. It adds to the sum of human happiness.”

Which nations are better at writing thank yous?

He said that most parents would say they were required to write thank you letters themselves, but that they were failing to ask their own offspring to do so. However, according to a new study, the British are better at writing thank you notes for Christmas presents than the French, Germans or Italians. However, the Australians and Canadians are better at putting pen to paper to say thank you.

Notes, said Mr Lenon, should be written to say thank you for presents, as well as for dinner invitations and for school trips. He said that it was often grandparents who felt the most disappointed if they did not receive a thank you letter because they were from a generation which had grown up writing and receiving letters. He suggested that children could be offered a treat, such as a trip out, for writing all their thank you letters before New Year.