By Lauren Groff, contributing writer
Journaling is something many adults have turned to as a hobby to relieve stress or just get their thoughts out.
But parents have also been waking up to the ways that a journaling practice with your kids can help spark creativity in children. What’s more: Journaling can help kids who struggle with anxiety. It can also help children learn about gratitude and mindfulness – both of which aren’t exclusive to adults.
In fact, many kids struggle with stress, depression and anxiety. And journaling can be a powerful path through these dark times.
So let’s take a look at how to start journaling with kids!
Benefits of Journaling
Journaling has a number of benefits for all age groups. For one thing, writing in a diary provides a fantastic creative outlet. Whether you’re working on your creative writing, sketching or drawing, journaling can take many forms and boost overall creativity.
For kids this can have a huge impact on school performance, as they’ll become more adept at finding out-of-the-box solutions for problems in the classroom.
Writing down your thoughts also improves communication skills. Because critical reflection is an integral part of journaling, children find significant benefits in terms of understanding their feelings, regulating them and communicating them. In the turbulent period of adolescence, these are vital skills for navigating new experiences and feelings.
Benefits of a gratitude journal
Gratitude journals are a specific kind of journaling practice where the writer focuses on things for which they’re grateful.
Practicing gratitude can have a powerful impact on well-being and, by casting a positive spotlight on things in your life, lead to greater happiness.
In our busy lives it’s easy to take the small, daily positive things for granted. Whether that’s a cup of coffee your partner brings or the smile of the bus driver on your way home from work, once you begin recognizing these details, life becomes more cheerful.
Kids can benefit just as much as adults from journaling about their gratitude, and often these journal entries become great resources as children get older and reflect back on their lives.
The link between gratitude and mindfulness for kids
Did you know that journaling can lead to increased mindfulness for kids?
Fundamentally, a gratitude journal brings you closer to the daily events of your life. It casts clarity across the interactions you have on a daily basis. By slowing life down and recognizing the value in small actions, mindfulness begins to grow. This helps prevent stress and worry from overwhelming you when things go wrong. Indeed, gratitude and mindfulness helps kids face challenges as they grow up.
Journaling in a pandemic
As the global coronavirus pandemic descended upon the world in 2020, we witnessed the interruption of normal routines, work patterns and schooling. Many children felt their lives slipping into chaos. Journaling, in turn, is one way for kids to sort through the feelings and emotions that arise during stressful times.
In fact, National Geographic recently outlined why journaling has never been more necessary than now in order to face the growing upheaval in our lives. Indeed, a journaling practice for kids gives them the opportunity to grasp autonomy at a time when control often feels like it’s slipping away.
How to Start a Gratitude Journal
Oftentimes the hardest part about writing in a gratitude journal is getting started. Here are our tips for how to encourage your kids to start journaling!
Get kids on board
You need to get your kids to buy into journaling before getting started. So, try not to enforce journaling on your kids as another form of homework. Instead, get your kids excited about the creative process and give children autonomy on how it unfolds. Remember: journaling can be done in so many ways, so if they want to scribble on a pad of paper, who are we to say no?
Find some structure
For journaling to become habitual it’s vital that there’s some structure around it. As journaling becomes part of your child’s routine, it will become closely entwined with their day-to-day well-being. So, set aside Saturday mornings, for example, as a time to sit down and explore journaling. If you want to start journaling alongside your child, even better!
Share art supplies
One great way to make journaling special for your children is to open the process up to a whole new drawer of supplies. Letting your child dip into the stash of art supplies demonstrates that you have respect for their creative process and it makes journaling an extra special time.
Ideas for What to Write About
Journaling is a self-directed practice. That said, inspiration won’t always strike. Here are 5 ideas of what you, or your child, can write about in your journals, along with some possible journal themes:
1. A dream journal
If your child is a vivid dreamer starting a dream diary can be a fantastic way to encourage them to build a writing practice. Children love talking about their dreams, so why not bring a paper and pen to the breakfast table. Get your child to write down everything they remember about their dreams and support them to include the ways their dream made them feel, both while dreaming and after. This encourages self-reflection and helps them to build a language for talking about their feelings.
Journaling doesn’t have to mean writing whole walls of prose every day. Micro-journaling takes the journaling process and breaks it down into bite size chunks. For reluctant journalers, writing a single sentence a day can be the perfect way to start out. Often this blossoms into longer journal entries in time.
3. An art journal
Who says you need to write? Not all kids are natural writers, and a journaling practice is flexible enough to encompass all styles of learning and expression. An art journal can include doodling, watercolors or collage – you might be surprised by the unique ways your child finds to express themselves through art. Art journals often evolve into fully-fledged written journals, so let your child take it at their own pace.
4. Printable mindfulness sets
Colorful printables for kids and mindfulness activities are a great way to find inspiration when you sit down to start journaling. And, activities like making your own mindfulness activity jars will instantly give your journaling a positive purpose.
5. A gratitude log
As we discussed above, gratitude journals are one of the simplest ways to start connecting mindfully to your world. Simply start out by taking a moment each day to reflect on what went right in your day, and to write it down. You can write as much or as little as you like in a gratitude log!
Are you ready to introduce journaling to your kids?
Whether journaling becomes a shared practice between you and your child, or a private part of your child’s own approach to self-care and mental health, the powerful possibilities are clear. Think of this like setting out on a journey towards health and well-being with your child. You may even end up doing kids yoga poses together!
Writer bio: Lauren Groff is a storyteller at Assignment Service and Dissertation Writing Service. She has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Mississippi and writes, prose, poetry and creative nonfiction. She has been journalling since her teens. She is also an editor at Custom Essay writing service.