Sometimes life is a lot, right? Journaling has been a way I have been able to cope with that. I find comfort in spilling my deepest thoughts on paper. When things are out of my control, I love getting lost in a fictional world I have created, while letting this world fade away for a while.
So, naturally when the pandemic started and my, then five year old daughter, told me she was feeling scared, the first thing I thought of was journaling together. She was in the middle of her kindergarten year and was still learning to read and write. Since we were schooling at home, this was a fun way to practice and ease some of the stress of the day.
Journaling with kids is truly amazing We started with thirty minutes before bed writing in our journals and talking about our day. It quickly became my favorite time of the day and I looked forward to it as much as she did. Coming up on two years of our journaling journey, it is still something I treasure.
The methods my daughter and I use for journaling together have evolved the more we do it, and there have been seasons that we don’t make it a priority. Showing my daughter the tools I use to journal has made conversations about all those big feelings easier. She has learned to be conscious of her feelings and emotions and it blows me away how good she is at recognizing when she needs some time alone to breathe.
How do you start?
One of the things I love most about journaling with kids is there is no right or wrong way to do it. Just take time for yourself and get the feelings out. The following are some prompts we used that are appropriate for any age:
1. What is something you did today that made you proud?
This will look different for everyone. For my daughter, it could be something like “I drew a picture” or “I completed a math worksheet.” For me it could be accomplishing something off my checklist, or choosing compassion in a situation I didn’t want to. The goal is that you recognize those moments for yourself, taking your focus off of all the ways we should have been better. Taking that time to acknowledge that you were more gracious today than you were a week ago, or you accomplished something off of life’s never ending to-do list.
2. What made you most happy today?
This is an obvious one, but some days it’s hard to find the good. We talk and write a lot about gratitude being something you learn.
3. What made you sad?
This question was interesting, because it was a time I was able to teach her about different emotions. Sometimes to a five year old, sadness encompasses a lot. Learning the differences between fear, confusion, frustration, and sadness helped better identify those emotions and how to handle them in the future.
4. What is a hope you have for your future self?
This question was always my favorite to see her answer. When we started this at five, her future self was tomorrow. The responses were completing puzzles or winning a game. Now they are jobs that she wants to do, and sports she wants to try out for. For me the answers were typically giving myself and others more grace. To stop belittling my journey, and to enjoy the day to day.
Make it fun
Journaling with kids does not have to be as serious as journaling as an adult. Once my daughter and I answered our questions, we would doodle for a little while and just talk. Make journaling fun for you child. It may start as more doodling than words in the beginning and that’s okay.
An added bonus of journaling with your children is the keepsake it provides. My daughter and I love to look through old journals and see how our drawings looked, or the colors that we liked. Plus it’s a great way to remember what you went through and now with the distance of time see how certain situations turned out.
About the Writer: Emmy Seal is a romantic comedy author. Living in Michigan with her husband and two kids, and dozens of plant babies. In her free time, she enjoys bike riding, hiking, and reading. Check out Emmy on Instagram for more.