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After the year we’ve had (yes, 2020, we’re talking about you) it might not come as much of a surprise to hear that there has been a rise in the number of children experiencing increased anxiety and depression.
Starting a journal in 2021 might be just what your child needs to help give them a boost in the New Year.
Need some convincing? Here are just a few benefits that are often observed thanks to journaling:
Just the thought of having to talk about feelings might cause stress in your child, but if they put their thoughts down on paper, they may find there’s less to worry about that they thought. They will be able to gain a new perspective on what is troubling them, which may lead them to see that some worries just aren’t worth worrying about.
With Covid-19 related restrictions changing frequently, children may be faced with isolation, lockdown, or a general lack of social interaction. Being on their own more than is typical can be overwhelming for those children who thrive on such social interaction but encouraging them to keep a journal may help them with their feelings of loneliness. Many children find comfort in the knowledge that their journal is always going to be there.
With screens becoming more and more part of our daily lives, getting back to basics, and spending more time writing and reading should be encouraged. Regular writing can help improve literacy, with positive effects on a child’s vocabulary, spelling, and storytelling. Improved literacy leads to better communication, in turn leading to increased confidence.
Let your child know that expressing themselves is key. Through words, diagrams, or doodles…it doesn’t matter. If they are feeling overwhelmed, a doodle might help convey how they feel. If they need to have some structure, a chart to follow might help give them focus. Many children who have taken part in our Wellbeing programme have told us that they like to record their actions in charts – how many pages they have read, how much sleep they are getting, or how much water they are drinking, for example. Poetry might also be something they can use to express themselves. The options are endless, but by having their own journal as an outlet, they will be able to explore what works for them.
Has your child expressed a desire to learn something new or achieve a new goal recently? Being accountable to themselves in their own journal will help them learn how to motivate themselves and hold themselves accountable for their successes or failures. As we mentioned above, charts or ‘trackers’ are great for journals and can help with motivation. Your child can track their own progress towards their goal in a colourful and engaging way that isn’t overwhelming or scary.
These factors combined can have a dramatic effect on the stress and anxiety levels of children. Having a private outlet for their thoughts, feelings, wishes and dreams might prove to be invaluable, especially with the continuation of the pandemic.
Let your child choose a notebook they like and make sure they have a supply of coloured pens/pencils available to them. Additional creative goodies such as a ruler, a rubber, a pencil sharpener, and some highlighters may add to their creativity.
If the idea of a blank notebook is daunting, try suggesting some of these cues to get them started on their first few entries:
Let them know that this is a safe space for them to express themselves and that it doesn’t have to be perfect.
If your child wants to learn more about their own health and wellbeing, then see how our programme, which can be delivered in lesson time at their school might help.