Journaling.... we don't mean become a Journalist... well, if thats what they want to do, who are we to say otherwise? No, we mean the hobby of journaling. What is journaling? Or what is a Journal? Well Google will tell you that is "a daily record of news and events of a personal nature; a diary". And The Free Dictionary will tell you that it is "a daily record, as of occurrences, experiences, observations." The point is, it is a record of whatever you want it to be. Apparently it has to be daily. If it isn't EVERY single day, and maybe most days, I don't see the difference, or any issue... I mean... like who are you? The 'journal police'? Jeez...
So why are we talking about journals? Because we think your child should be keeping one, for school, or activities, or bit of both. And here's why...
1. Relieve anxiety
Anxiety? "My child doesn't have anxiety".... are you sure??? According to the National Institutes of Health, nearly 1 in 3 of all adolescents ages 13 to 18 will experience an anxiety disorder. Rates of anxiety have been rising. And we haven't even discussed Rona yet (you know who Rona is... don't ask).
I teach 6 days a week, and I see varying levels of anxiety in at least 60-70% of the children I teach. It's definitely growing, in my experience. So how can journaling help? Well it is like a mental download. Literally. You have all these thoughts in your head, and then you write them out, and it's like someone has taken lead out of your brain and dumped it on the paper. It is a literal weight off your mind (pun absolutely intended). Then you can choose to think about what you're looking at, or not! Compared to constantly wondering round with various thoughts in your head, and carrying them into tomorrow, and beyond.
Your child could be walking around with thoughts you didn't even know. Or they could be telling you they are "fine" when actually they are a bit exhausted, or just have something on their mind which is bugging them slightly. Or, they could journal it all, and get it all out.
"what if your child had part of their routine centred around organising their mind... Would their day go better, or worse?"
2. Build Routine
Days can be chaotic for children, and I don't mean physically... I mean mentally. Most children have a standardised routine - wake up, wash, breakfast, kick the cat, go to school, come back, go to some form of activity, or do homework, then play maybe, kick the cat again, get told off for kicking the cat, eat, sleep. Rinse and repeat. The problem is, do they have ANY sort of mental routine?
Is your child always forgetting things? Or do you not even give them the chance to forget, and totally organise everything for them, and pack their bags because you almost EXPECT that they will forget everything? (I'm not talking about pre-schoolers, or even 5yr olds, because their memory capacity won't be as developed as say a 10yr old, naturally). Most of the time, we forget things, because our brain is PLAGUED by a trillion different thoughts. This is why to-do lists are amazing. Mental download.
(This guy has done his journaling for the day).
What if your child started their morning looking at a journal of things that happened yesterday, and things they will be doing today? What if they had written things down that they needed to pack in the morning? Or if they had broken their goals down into tiny sizeable chunks (like micro goals)... would they be more likely to achieve it, or less?
Put it this way - what if your child had part of their routine centred around organising their mind... putting things in categories and boxes in their little brains. Would their day go better, or worse?
3. Memory exercise
We know if we exercise our legs, doing squats (lord... send help)... they will get stronger and more efficient.. the same goes for all muscles in the body. Guess what the brain is. Yep, also a muscle. Tests at school can test memory, but they are also mainly testing how good you are at taking tests... as the more tests you take, the better you get.
We all want our children to remember more, more often. But we don't really train or practice the action. I mean yes, sometimes we play memory games etc, but it certainly IS NOT daily, nor is it autonomous for the child... it is not them doing it for themselves. Journaling can change all of that. As they write down things they don't want to forget, the act of writing them down gives them exponentially more chance of remembering those things, or bits of information.
You can literally improve your memory just by writing down things you want to remember. Not even trying to revise them. The act of writing them becomes the revision itself. It's actual sorcery.
I'm telling you. It works. I use journals with my students all the time. Their ability to remember things ALWAYS increases after they begin using them regularly.
"There are not enough moments in life for children to really celebrate success day-to-day, with evidence to back it up."
"Let me do it myself"... how many times do you hear a child say that... or a variation of it? Where you just wanna retort something like ... "ok big woman... you don't need no help, yeah?"... while expecting the child to fail miserably. What kind of adult are you. Tut. But on a serious note... children LOVE autonomy. They want to be able to show they are independent, they want to seem grown-up, and so on. Well... let's give them what they want!
Journaling gives them a chance to set goals, and allow them to be accountable for actions or inactions they have persisted in, towards those goals. Even the act of journalling itself... if they find nothing is really changing, but they have only entered in their journals twice in the past 3 months, then there is some accountability to be discussed right there.
They can look back at everything they have written, and compare it to how they are doing at school or in a given activity, or even in home life... and it gives them a chance to pat themselves on the back, with evidence. There are not enough moments in life for children to really celebrate success day-to-day, with evidence to back it up. Let's really give children a chance to be accountable for their actions, good or... not so good.
"Happiness is not an everlasting thing, as we know. It comes and goes. However, we can be in charge of how often it is around."
5. Thought processing
As a child, I was NEVER given a chance to process my thoughts. I mostly dismissed or buried them if negative, or... to be honest, I don't even know how I processed my positive thoughts. I probably thought no-one would notice. Sad, isn't it?
This is hard for children. It's even harder for us adults to give children space to do this. "How are you?" just will NOT cut it with a 13yr old. Good luck with that. However, if they had somewhere to write the answer down, on a day to day basis, with regards to a specific topic (school, a given activity, relationships, home life etc), then it would be clearly defined, and children would become more receptive to actually opening up, and allowing themselves to really process thoughts, both negative and positive. Journalling will give them opportunity to experience this process with complete autonomy (as discussed earlier).
Being able to process thoughts will lead to more bouts of happiness, I believe. Happiness is not an everlasting thing, as we know. It comes and goes. However, we can be in charge of how often it is around. Processing thoughts doesn't provide happiness - it gives breathing space, in our minds - more real estate where happiness can then take place, given the right environment. If the space isn't there in the first place, then there is no where for happiness to sit. Give it space.
It goes without saying - I'm a big fan of journaling of any kind. Especially for children. I really think children should keep a journal - and diaries are good, but I find journals are better because most times it is more defined.
[Shameless plug] If you have a child that is into acro, gymnastics, dance or performing arts, then feel free to check out our journal below which you can purchase direct, which will give your child all the tools and benefits we've described above. Aside from that, you can get your child to journal in any other way you see fit. Just start!