These days, with the confluence of smart phones and social media apps there seems to be a million ways for us to express ourselves. But these public facing, digital versions of ourselves end up being a shorthand representation of who we want other people to believe we are, rather than an accurate reflection of our true selves. And like so many things, as it goes with us, so it goes with our kids.
Journaling, of the private, analog variety that uses an actual pen and paper seems that it might be going the way of the dinosaur, but in reality, it remains a vital practice to building self knowledge and analytical skills. Creating a journal practice can be an important part of developing introspection and gaining perspective on emotionally complicated situations, skills that will be just as important for the next generation as they are for ours. If you'd like to encourage your kids to start a journaling habit, here are a few guidelines to keep in mind...
There is no "RIGHT" way to journal.
Some people use journals to record accounts of their daily lives. Others keep nature journals, or art journals, or just use notebooks to write down their creative ideas. It might take some exploration to figure out what works best for your kids, so keep an open mind and encourage them try different journaling methods.
Journals are private!
Impress upon your kids that their journals are not going to be read by you or by anyone else. It makes you feel pretty vulnerable to put your true self into your writing and the fear that someone else will read your most personal thoughts is enough to stop most of us before we even get started.
Be the journaler you wish them to be.
That's right! Model the behavior that you want to see in your kids. Let them see you writing. Talk with them about how journaling helps you express how you feel; gives you a safe place to be angry; lets you list the pros and cons when making difficult decisions; gives you perspective on emotionally complicated situations; or helps you plan out tough conversations ahead of time.
It's easy to get started.
One of the loveliest things about journaling is that it's easy to get started! Sure, a fancy journal is nice, but not necessary. A simple composition notebook can be found at any dollar store (if you want to jazz it up, check out our journal covers). You can offer up a simple ball point pen, a collection of colored pencils or markers or make a gift of a really special pen.
Prompts can help!
One of the biggest barriers to building a journaling habit is just not knowing what to start writing about. Prompts can be really helpful, so, I created this simple download with questions to get you and/or your kids started.