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Journaling: The Ultimate Gift for Your Children
by Joanna Young
Editor's Note from Barbara Lazarony: Many of us remember our first journal, that special place that we could write down all of our feelings and wishes free from parents and teachers. Where we could spill out everything to crisp blank pages to our trusted confidante, our journal. Consider sharing the gift of journaling with another generation, your children, grandchildren or others; and encourage them to write and scribble to express themselves for fun and healing too.
Give the Gift of Self-Awareness
What greater gift could you give your children than the ability to know and love themselves?
Journaling can reduce anxiety in children and provides a way for them to express themselves when the spoken word may not be sufficient (or safe). By learning to write their feelings and deepest thoughts on paper they are learning to tune into themselves - to get to know who they are, what they think, and the things they value. This decreases frustrations and allows them to think critically and make self-informed decisions before they act - a priceless skill, especially in the teen years. Writing has also been proven to reduce stress and anxiety in young people.
Teaching your children to journal at an early age will set a habit for life. Before they can write you can encourage them to draw their feelings or "tell" their side of a story through pictures. When my children are upset about something and acting out due to frustration I ask them if they would like to "draw about it." The very act of sitting with crayon and scribbling (as hard and with as dark a color as needed) calms them down. I then ask them to explain the picture and many times the reason they were angry, sad, or frustrated will come out or on some occasions the upset has even been forgotten.
For pre-writers this book is an incredible gift: The Daily Doodle by Janet Mentore Lee, Ph.D. For older children who are comfortable writing, any journal or notebook, either with blank, lined or designed pages, can inspire personal writing. Bookstores are a good place to find themed or blank journals. For the artist and non-artist alike, sketch books with designed covers also make lovely personalized gifts. There are also some great journals on the market which include prompts to get your child started on their self-discovery journey (like this one for girls and this one for boys).
Please remember this incredibly important rule: Older children and adolescents must know their journal will be kept private! As tempting as it will be to peak at their seemingly mundane entries, it is imperative for your child's emotional health (not to mention to your relationship) that you KEEP OUT! Buying a journal with a lock is a perfect way to ensure your child that you respect his/her privacy.
Give the special child in your life the greatest gift - the key to themselves: A journal and the freedom to write.
This article was originally published on examiner.com.
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About the Author
Joanna Tebbs Young is a published writer, creative change coach and a certified instructor through the Center for Journal Therapy and has taught at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. She is currently working towards a Masters degree in Transformative Language Arts at Goddard College. Having kept a journal for more than 20 years, Joanna has personally experienced the healing benefits of writing and is on a mission to help others discover an authentic life through journaling. Her blog, journaling prompts and workshop information can be found at wisdomwithinink.com.
A list of Joanna's other journaling articles can be found here.