by Alexandra Eidens, Founder, Big Life Journal
There are numerous hobbies and skills that your child can experiment with and develop as they grow older. Many fall into the buckets of sports, arts, science, and technology, but one practice that often gets overlooked is journaling.
It might not seem like a valuable hobby for youth, but journaling offers a lot of great benefits to your child as they grow. Some of the benefits include enhancing their creativity, strengthening their communication skills, processing thoughts and complex emotions, and framing the way they see the world.
Let’s break the benefits down further to see just how journaling can help benefit your child with only a modest amount of effort and continued practice.
1) Journaling improves writing and communication skills.
One of the obvious benefits of journaling for kids and teens is that it helps improve their writing and communication skills.
Ever witness someone stumbling over their words trying to convey their message? Journaling allows your child to practice their thought structure, encouraging them to rehearse conveying a feeling or belief that they want to get across. Regular journaling helps the individual practice their communication skills (albeit internally). The improvements can be reflected in how your child interacts with others, whether at home or in school.
Moreover, journaling is more free-flowing than writing a school essay. This allows them to express their emotions in writing, no matter what the emotion may be, since they are working in a judgement-free zone. With less formal structure for their writing, they are more apt to try new ways of expression.
2) Journaling boosts creativity.
Journaling can help your kids be more creative with their words. If you find that your child gravitates to writing, or likes to express themselves through words, then giving them a journal is something they might easily appreciate.
However, a journal doesn’t have to be all about words. Allow them to decorate and draw in it if that is how they choose to process their thoughts as some prefer to express themselves more visually.
A journal means a person has free rein over what they put into it. As mentioned previously, there are no hard and fast rules about journaling. This structure-free environment allows them to unleash their creativity.
3) Journaling helps kids deal with complex emotions.
As your child grows up, they will undoubtedly encounter a lot of complex, big emotions.
Sometimes teens go through a “rebellious phase” during which they tend to communicate less with their parents. This is the time when they would like you to give space and privacy.
Nevertheless, encouraging them to express their emotions, whether by talking to you or by writing in a journal, will help them immensely. They might even find that doing one (either talking to you or writing in a journal) makes the other one easier to do.
Often, complex emotions can bubble over which leads to venting that extra energy physically. Journaling can help your child express their emotions without being destructive. As such, it becomes their creative outlet when dealing with emotions that might be new to them or more intense than they previously felt.
4) Journaling helps to see the world in a new light.
For kids and teens, time can sometimes feel so slow and yet so fast.
Most of their days are spent in school and often they don’t get the chance to slow down and pay attention to what’s happening around them. They might find a class where they enter the flow state – being totally engrossed in the subject. But then they’re whisked away to the next class which may, or may not, engage them in the same way. Throughout their day, they’re also busy getting to know themselves, all the while through an ever-changing social landscape.
Related: How To Enjoy Studying
This is where journaling can really shine! For one, it lets them retain the memories of how their day went, allowing them to replay events and their feelings and put it to paper in a way that other digital medium may not allow. Second, it lets them reflect on the minute details that matter to them, no matter how insignificant it may appear to us adults. By letting them shine this internal spotlight on events and feelings, it provides them a way of seeing the world that they might have normally skipped over, to be more reflective of their feelings, and better understand social situations in school and beyond in the larger world.
5) Journaling cements memories.
When your child grows up and looks back at their journal entries, it can help them recall their childhood memories, both the good and the not-so-good. Many of which they may have forgotten while growing up. If you have ever looked through your old yearbook, you know exactly how this feels!
Once your child begins journaling, a different approach they may want to take is to record all the good times each day. Reflecting on the positives in a day and memorializing it through your journal is a positive practice that people of all ages can benefit from. Over time, this practice actually wires your brain to see positivity in events in the present.
6) Journaling can be a mental sandbox.
It’s important to teach our children the value of patience and slowing down. Journaling practice can be a great help here too.
The act of journaling is a cathartic way of processing one’s emotions. The alternative tends to be less ideal: acting out physically or verbally, often with no foresight as to the ramifications of those actions. But journaling allows them to figure out a better way to go about things in a risk-free environment (inside their own head). Like playing in a sandbox when very young, journaling allows them to mentally sketch out thoughts and feelings to see what is true and long lasting, or what may just be a fleeting feeling at the moment.
While it doesn’t matter whether it’s a scrapbook or just a spiral bound notebook, it would be ideal to bring your child with you when you go shopping for a journal. That way, they can choose the one that they want and can take more ownership of the decision to start and the process of continued journaling.
You may even pair it with a special pen so that they will feel like it is meant to write about something meaningful. Not to mention that this can motivate them to write more often. Since journaling is a practice, and benefit won’t necessarily come after the first session, the more they do it, the more benefit they’ll enjoy.
Given the propensity for digital media and tools for teens, you can give them a digital journal so they make an entry whenever and wherever they are. In addition, let them know that whatever they write in their journal is theirs and that they have a right to privacy. Like a physical paper journal, having a sense of ownership and privacy to their writing helps unlock the true benefits.
Bringing It All Together
Journaling is sometimes an underrated hobby that kids of all ages can genuinely benefit from. Not only is it easy to do but it allows them to improve their skills and creativity, as well as learn to deal with their thoughts and emotions. And with continued practice the benefits will become greater and longer lasting, even reaching into adulthood.
It’s never too late to start journaling, so don’t worry or feel that your child is behind in anyway. As with most things in life, the best time to start is now.