Alright grown ups, here’s all you need to know about getting your kid to journal!
Parents often want kids to be able to speak with them about how they are feeling, sometimes kids, especially teenagers can be pretty…resistant…to talking with their parents about important stuff. Journaling can be a great first step in fostering healthy communication about emotions between you and your child.
Most parents can agree that they want their kids to be able to express their emotions in a healthy way. Most parents can also agree that they often struggle to get their kids to do things that they suggest.
Here are some helpful tips on getting your kids to journal and minimizing their eye rolling and resistance:
- Pitch the idea to them in the right way: If you think your kid might benefit from journaling explain to them how can be helpful; that it can help them learn about themselves, grow, express themselves, find their voice, and track their progress. Give your kid as much choice as possible. If you force them it becomes like homework…and no one likes homework.
- Gather materials: We all like nice things. A kid is much more likely to write in a journal if they are able to pick out a cool one that they like (that’s why Paper Thoughts works to give kids in need journals!) Make it a special event to pick out a nice journal and a nice pen/pencil for your child to use when journaling. Encourage your kid to choose something that speaks to them. The more exciting and special it is the more likely your kid is to try it.
- Set the stage: Encourage your child to find a good space to journal. Encourage them to limit distractions like cell phones and television. Calming music or quiet work best. They may want to journal outside or they may want to journal in their room. Let your child know they can journal for as long or as short as they’d like. Encourage them to do what feels most comfortable for them.
- Make it as easy as possible: Check out our resources page to find a printable PDF of different methods of journaling. If your child is having a hard time knowing where to start, give them some direction. There are lots of free journal prompts in our resources section that you can use to help your child get started. They’re divided by topic and are available for PDF download.
- Respect Privacy: while it might be really tempting to peek in your kid’s journal to see what they’re writing about, try to avoid it. Journaling will be more effective and helpful for your child if they feel like it’s a safe place to let their feelings out. If you feel like you must check what they are writing to make sure they are safe, let them know about it. Be honest and up front; avoid sneaking and snooping. If you want your child to be able to communicate their feelings with you, it’s important that they trust you. Take the first step in building that trust by making sure you’re honest and open with them.
- Set a good example: If you want your kid to journal and express their emotions in a healthy way, it’s important for you to set a good example by doing the same. You can set aside time where you both journal at the same time next to one another. You can encourage them to share what they wrote. If your child doesn’t want to talk about what they wrote, that’s okay, try to avoid pressuring them, instead ask what you can do to make it easier for them to talk to you, or ask them what the experience of journaling was like for them. This can be a cool way to bond with your kid and both learn about yourselves and grow!
Journaling offers a place for kids to learn to express themselves with words, but also maintain privacy and not have to worry about the reactions from others. It gives kids the opportunity to think about their feelings and express them in a safe and healthy way. It can also be a great coping skill when your child is upset or frustrated and it can facilitate healing and growth. It’s also a great way to jumpstart communication between you and your child!