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When your children are young, it is often easy to build a connection with them as it is more about physical actions — you feed them, tickle them, and play with them, and they love it. However, as children get older, that connection can be harder to maintain — especially in the pre-teen and teen years, where communication often breaks down thanks to raging hormones!
A great way to keep the channels of communication open is through journaling with your child.
Before or during times of limited or difficult communication, a journal can be a safe place for you and your child to talk to each other one-to-one without judgement. In fact, it could be beneficial to start journaling with your son or daughter at a younger age, so they get used to communicating in this way for when the teen years arrive. A journal is a great place for your child to open up, answer questions, ask questions, and allow you to get to know each other deeply.
As an additional perk, a journal is also a great way for your child to practice their handwriting!
How does it work?
It’s a simple concept. Buy a journal and encourage your child to share with you within its pages. You can find our range of journals, here. Gift it to your child and encourage them to decorate it if they wish. Then explain to them that this is a special journal for him/her/them and you to share and chat without judgement. Ask them to start it off by telling you about their day. Agree on a place where they can leave the journal in your bedroom once they’re done, and vice versa, so it doesn’t get lost; under a pillow is a popular choice, ready to read at bedtime.
Tips for your journaling
- Never correct your child’s spelling or grammar or comment on their handwriting in the journal, as this will turn it into an educational exercise and will put them off using the journal.
- Keep your messages positive; doing so will encourage your child to share.
- Respond in a timely manner, even when you’re very busy; a short response is better than no response, and shows you care. Also, if you set the pace, your child is likely to follow and respond fairly quickly too.
- If your child seems stuck for what to write, try using prompts or asking more questions.
- If your child takes a long time to reply, remind them, but don’t put them under pressure about it. Perhaps they don’t want to answer your last question or don’t know what to say in response to what you told them. Either way, give them the option of passing the journal back to you, where you can start a new conversation.
- Store finished journals in your child’s bedroom, so they can access and read through them whenever they’d like to.
- Be empathetic — while it may feel more natural to offer advice to your child, children of a certain age will reject this and react much better to your empathy instead. For example, instead of writing, “You should end your friendship” you could write, “I imagine that hurt your feelings. What do you think you might like to do about it? Do you feel it is an equal friendship?”
- Make it clear that anything is up for discussion in your journal. You will probably find that, over time, you will discuss many things your child would never have discussed with you face-to-face.
- Keep the journal going through hard times, such as when your child is not talking to you — don’t use it to discuss that issue though, but instead use it to remind each other of the love you share.
Good luck with your journaling. Have you given it a go with your child? Let us know in the comments below.
Fancy trying another type of journaling? Find out how to keep a dream journal, here.