Did you keep a journal as a kid?
I somehow have misplaced my journals and diaries that I kept over the years. (Shudder!) But I remember how exciting it was as a kid and teen to open up my notebook to record my thoughts and emotions on any given day. I loved the open page, the belief in what was possible with writing, and the “solid” plans I’d hatch.
I often think of fellow Wichita Mom contributor, Jenna Quentin, when it comes to the idea of keeping records of one’s emotions during the big and small moments of our lives. She recently reflected on her experience writing about the devastation on 9/11 at the age of 15. She actually wrote a letter to her daughter about what the experience was like and what happened. (You can hear her speaking about this here.)
The act of keeping a record of our experiences is powerful and moving. And you’re never too young to develop the skills and habits. Especially in our own current climate of worldwide confusion and fear, we have the opportunity now to expose our children to the importance of reflection through journaling. We get to encourage and support our children to craft their own narrative.
Just like 9/11, kids are going through their own reckoning right now. We have an opportunity to provide them with a way to document such a monumental circumstances but to also equip them with a lifelong tool to change their lives.
When writing about their experiences, kids learn that their bad days are temporary, that they can celebrate the good times and reflect on the challenging moments. They learn to process their situations, thoughts and emotions, removed from our well-meaning attempts at putting a positive spin on everything. And in this, kids learn to watch and manage their minds.
In my own home and with the students I work with, I introduce the act of reflection and journaling by asking questions and recording them. For my youngest, we recently started this at bedtime. We keep a notebook by his bed and ask him a question a day. But even if you didn’t start at the age of 3, it’s never too late. You can ask questions at the dinner table, or record their responses while waiting in the line at the grocery store pickup. The first step is in modeling how to journal.
Journaling will look different for each kid. You know your child’s style and patterns best. Your kid might want to type out their to specific specific questions, some children like to write in open-ended notebooks, others like to take photos and write about their photos in an album. Others might want to write a collection of letters. The possibilities are endless. (And what works for your child at one point in their lives, might change and evolve. And that is just fine.)
Depending on the style of writing and prompts you select, you can play around with the materials you provide. Perhaps all they need is a notebook, but some kids might appreciate questions or a formal journal or diary. Or you might have a camera available with a weekly 7 photo max printing session. (Just speaking from my son’s experience here. One can have too many photos printed to then document the moment in writing. Ha!)
If you choose an open-ended journaling process, here are a few prompts that might be of interest:
- Describe the happiest day of your life.
- If you could do anything all day tomorrow what would you do?
- If you could have any special talent what would it be, and why?
- What makes you happy?
- What job would you like when you’re an adult?
- Describe yourself in 10 words.
- What makes a good friend?
- Is there ever a time or situation where it could be OK to tell a lie?
- What makes you smile?
- What is one thing you would like to get better at doing?
- What age are you most excited to turn, and why?
- Who is your hero? Why?
- Write about what you love about your family.
- Which room in your house is your favorite, and why?
- What’s your favorite school subject? Why?
- What’s your favorite celebration, and what are the things you like most about it?
“I’ve always written. There’s a journal which I kept from about 9 years old.”– Maya Angelou
Alternatively, you might want to just purchase a journal for your child. My journal recommendations include:
Between Mom and Me (Mother Son Journal) by Katie Clemons
Henry and I LOVED this! Highly recommend.
Love Mom and Me (Mother Daughter Journal) by Katie Clemons
Assuming this is just as good as the one above.
One Question a Day for Kids: A Three-Year Journal by Aimee Chase
I just love these for kids and I own as adult version as well.
The 3 Minute Gratitude Journal by Modern Kid Press
I’ve heard great things. We do a family gratitude journal at dinner but this would be good too.
Spark: A Guide To Ignite The Creativity Inside You (American Girl)
Really journals are what you want them to be. The colors are great too.
The Wimpy Kid Do It Yourself Book by Jeff Kinney
Kept my son busy and was hands-down the best purchase one summer. “So much fun!”
Last but not least, the most popular. It’s also much pricier than others on this list.
Perhaps you already incorporate this into your kid’s lives? What recommendations do you have for other moms? And for those of you who are ready to start, I can’t wait to hear about it! Sending you well wishes and mom strength!