Therapy in Chester, NJ
Parents often want kids to be able to speak with them about how they are feeling; however sometimes kids, especially teenagers can be very resistant to talking with their parents about important stuff. Sometimes due to their inability to express themselves, kids can act out and be destructive to themselves or others. Journaling can be a great first step to managing emotions in a healthy way. Unfortunately, many parents can also agree that they often struggle to get their kids to do things that they suggest, therefore requesting them to the journal may be met with eye rolls or blank stares.
Here are some helpful tips on getting your kids to journal:
1. Pitch the idea to them in the right way: If you think your kid might benefit from journaling explain to them how it can be helpful; that it can help them learn about themselves, grow, express themselves, find their voice, and track their progress. Give your kid as much choice as possible. If you force them, it becomes like homework…and no one likes homework.
2. Gather materials: A kid is much more likely to write in a journal if they can pick out a cool one that they like. Make it a special event to pick out a nice journal and a nice pen/pencil for your child to use when journaling. Encourage your child to choose something that speaks to them. The more exciting and special it is the more likely your kid is to try it.
3. Set the stage: Encourage your child to find a good space to journal. Encourage them to limit distractions like cellphones and television. Calming music or quiet work best. They may want to journal outside or they may want to journal in their room. Let your child know they can journal for as long or as short as they'd like. Encourage them to do what feels most comfortable for them.
4. Make it as easy as possible: If your child is having a hard time knowing where to start, give them some direction. Ask them an open-ended question to get them started:
"What do you want your future to look like?"
"What does it feel like in your body when you get angry?"
"What do you wish people knew about you?" etc.
There are lots of free journals prompts online that you can use to help your child get started. Pinterest is a great resource for this.
4. Respect Privacy: while it might be tempting to peek in your kid's journal to see what they're writing about, try to avoid it. Journaling will be more effective and helpful for your child if they feel like it's a safe place to let their feelings out. If you feel like you must check what they are writing to make sure they are safe, let them know about it. Be honest and upfront, avoid sneaking and snooping. If you want your child to be able to communicate their feelings with you, it's important that they trust you. Take the first step in building that trust by making sure you're honest and open with them.
5. Set a good example: If you want your kid to journal and express their emotions in a healthy way, it's important for you to set a good example by doing the same. You can set aside time where you both journal at the same time next to one another. You can encourage them to share what they wrote. If your child doesn't want to talk about what they wrote, that's okay. Try to avoid pressuring them, instead ask what you can do to make it easier for them to talk to you.
Journaling offers a place for kids to learn to express themselves with words, but also maintain privacy and not have to worry about the reactions from others. It gives kids the opportunity to learn about themselves, processes their feelings, and expresses them in a safe and healthy way. It can also be a great coping skill when your child is upset or frustrated. Once they are better at understanding their feelings it may be easier for them to talk about them, therefore it could be a great way to jumpstart communication between you and your child.
If your child needs help expressing his/her emotions we are always here to help!
Call us at Modern Family Counseling at 732-742-0329 for more information about our services or to schedule an appointment with our therapists!