I’m a big proponent of journaling. Journaling can be cathartic. Writing can take a person inward and help clarify thought and action. It is said that the actual physical task of writing is directly related to expression of a person’s inner most thoughts and feelings.
You can encourage your child to journal by:
- Purchasing a journal in his/her favorite color or character on the front. If your child is young or likes to create “art” on the pages, get an unlined journal. When older they will likely want to pick out their own.
- Getting him/her some fun gel pens, markers or colored pencils to use. Your child will be more inclined to use their journal if he/she has what they want to use at their disposal, and it’s been documented that color inspires! If you have more than one child in your family who likes to journal, try to give each of them each the tools they want to use. One of my kids likes the gel pens, one likes the streamlined markers, and yet another likes the whittled contractors pencil (smudges beautifully).
- Giving your him/her the time to write/create each day.
- Helping your child write about issues and events and their emotional feelings surrounding them, especially as they become older, by asking quesions—tossing out pebbles.
- Telling him/her that their journal is private and that neatness and spelling are not important, which will encourage them to not censure their writing and art. Your child may decide to share their journal with you anyway, as mine do.
All of my kids use journals. I gave each of my kids journals as soon as they could hold crayons and make marks on the unlined pages. They were told that these journals were theirs—private—and that they could share them with me if they felt like it.
My daughter has often drawn and colored in her journals, creating detailed graphic stories that have shed a lot of light on how she feels about many things, including having been adopted. Upon completion she has handed them to me to explain what she has on the pages, reaching out to connect with me. I’ve found that this is how she prefers to open her deep conversations. The process of creating has given her time to format what and how she wants to share.
Parents: What are tools can you think of that can help your child process their thoughts and feelings?