Wouldn’t it be great …
… if you came home from work or before bed and you saw your child writing in a journal? There are such great benefits that come from journaling that we should encourage our kids to write as often as possible. We need to make journaling a habit because it will help them navigate through life in a much easier fashion. As parents we can set a good example and journal too. We get the same benefits as they do.
The benefits of journaling are amazing. It slows you down to focus and pay attention to your life by putting you in the moment. It helps you sort out our feelings. Journaling helps calm your mind. It can improve engagement giving kids the courage to speak up in class. How cool is that.
I never knew this until I started researching journaling but journaling has been shown to impact physical well-being; avid journal writer and journalist Michael Grothaus notes that there are studies suggesting journaling can strengthen the immune system, drop blood pressure, help you sleep better and generally keep you healthier. In this world where people are on medication for these types of issues wouldn’t it be exciting if our children could just journal instead of taking medication.
Sounds great doesn’t it!!! Trust me it is not as hard as you might be thinking. There is no wrong or right way to journal just do what feels right.
You might be thinking I don’t even do this; how am I supposed to get my child to do this. Remember age does not matter. All kids can journal and it is never to late to teach our teens to do this as well.
Here are some tips to get you started:
Start off small and make it easy and fun.
Set A Timer
Set a timer for 3-5 minutes depending on how old your child is. Try to write at the same time everyday to make it a habit. If you can’t do it everyday try doing it on the weekends. I know it is hard to get anything extra done during the weeknights.
Pick A Topic And Write
When you first start journaling, pick a topic to journal about. We like to journal about what we are grateful for.
Here is a great website you can checkout that gives topic ideas if you are having a hard time getting started with your child. https://www.journalbuddies.com/authors-statement-biography/
If your child cannot write yet have them draw pictures and ask them to describe it.
Keep the journals in a place that will remind you to write. We keep ours on the night stand.
We share what we wrote when we are done. It makes it fun and brings us closer and teaches my daughter how to share her thoughts and feelings but don’t feel you have to if you do not feel comfortable.
Tips For Older Children
For older children or even yourself, you can use these guidelines to help you start journaling found at the Center for Journal Therapy website. When you journal, remember the simple acronym: WRITE!
- W – What do you want to write about? Think about what is going on in your life, your current thoughts and feelings, what you’re striving towards or trying to avoid right now. Give it a name and put it all on paper.
- R – Review or reflect on it. Take a few moments to be still, calm your breath, and focus. A little mindfulness or meditation could help in this step. Try to start sentences with “I” statements like “I feel…”, “I want…”, and “I think…” Also, try to keep them in the present tense, with sentence stems like “Today…”, “Right now…”, or “In this moment…”
- I – Investigate your thoughts and feelings through your writing. Just keep going! If you feel you have run out of things to write or your mind starts to wander, take a moment to re-focus (another opportunity for mindfulness meditation!), read over what you have just written, and continue on.
- T – Time yourself to ensure that you write for at least 5 minutes (or whatever your current goal is). Write down your start time and the projected end time based on your goal at the top of your page. Set a timer or alarm to go off when the time period you have set it up.
- E – Exit strategically and with introspection. Read what you have written and take a moment to reflect on it. Sum up your takeaway in one or two sentences, starting with statements like “As I read this, I notice…”, “I’m aware of…”, or “I feel…” If you have any action items or steps you would like to take next, write them down now (Adams, n.d.).
Have fun and enjoy the time. Make it your own thing and be creative and do what works for you.
Our journaling begins after bath time for my daughter who is 11. We all sit on the bed and journal for 5 minutes. You would be surprised how quick the time goes and a lot of the time she is not done when the timer goes off. She writes about her day or what she is grateful for. Then we take turns sharing what we wrote. You will be amazed how much you enjoy journaling with your kids!!
If you have any questions or journaling practices that you want to share, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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about the author
Keri Collins is a children’s author who helps kids and parents better themselves by making better choices. She blogs about parenting and kids’ issues, and offers plenty of tips and other advice.