5 Reasons to Encourage Your Children to Journal

5 Reasons to Encourage Your Children to Journal
Self-expression can lead to greater self-reflection and self-awareness. (Alena Ozerova/Shutterstock)
Barbara Danza

Journaling is a practice that offers numerous benefits to adults, including stress relief, mental clarity, and overall life improvement. The benefits it offers to children and teens go even further.

More than ever, children need an outlet for their thoughts, a receptacle for their big ideas, and a way to express their creativity. Journaling is a simple way to support these needs.

A Healthy Habit

The simple act of keeping a record of your days can be a cathartic exercise in the present and an enlightening gift for your future self. A journal offers the benefit of allowing space to flesh out your thoughts and feelings, capture ideas, clarify your intentions, and enjoy activities such as doodling or making lists. It also offers a record to look back on for further understanding and introspection in the future.
Practicing self-expression and self-reflection can lead to greater self-awareness. What’s more, the habits of consistency and diligence that regularly writing in a journal evokes are valuable and transferable to many other aspects of life.

Encouraging Creativity

An enjoyable way to introduce journaling is to have your child decorate his or her own journal. Craft items such as colored duct tape, paints and markers, stickers, photos, stencils, and so forth will allow them to turn a simple notebook into a personalized treasure.
Encourage your child to make his or her journal their own. There are no rules about the right or wrong thing to include in a journal. Explain to your child that journaling allows for all forms of expression within. Whether your child wishes to doodle, paste photos, write a poem, jot down the lyrics to a favorite song, or write a traditional journal entry, allow their creativity to flourish. Keep craft supplies close at hand, so that your child always has what he or she needs to make his or her journal their own.

Improving Writing Skills

The best way to develop the skill of writing is to write. One way to encourage more writing in your child’s journal is to offer optional prompts. For example: “My favorite part of the day was ...” or “Today, I am grateful for ...” or “Something I’ve been thinking about lately is ...” or “I could have made today better by ...”

Fostering Gratitude

The benefits of a gratitude practice on mental health have been well-documented. Children today can use all the help they can get in this regard. Encourage your child to include the things that he or she is grateful for in his or her journal entries. Give your own examples of things that you’re grateful for, from the very simple (the sun shining through the window in the morning) to the very significant (the wonderful family you’re blessed to have). Pausing to reflect on the day, especially with a thought of gratitude in mind, can help children to foster an overall sense of gratitude in their lives. Gratitude can lead to a generally positive outlook on life.

Results in a Childhood Keepsake

Your child can keep his or her journal (or journals if they continue the habit for years, as many do) forever. The end result will be a handmade record of their childhood—a precious window into key years in their lives. This will become a treasure for a lifetime.

Journaling is a practice anyone can benefit from, but you may be surprised at how beneficial it can be for your children. To encourage them, if you don’t already, start a journal along with them. You’ll reap its benefits while providing the example that will encourage them to keep going.

Barbara Danza is a contributing editor covering family and lifestyle topics. Her articles focus on homeschooling, family travel, entrepreneurship, and personal development. She contributes children’s book reviews to the weekly booklist and is the editor of “Just For Kids,” the newspaper’s print-only page for children. Her website is BarbaraDanza.com
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