Forging a deeper connection with your child can be difficult, especially if you have more than one child. A parent-child journal is one great tool.
Whether your child is a toddler or a teenager, a parent-child journal can help your child open up to you about their feelings. No one else is to read their journal, and they are free to answer your questions, ask you questions, or draw pictures. Many kids have trouble opening up to their parent face-to-face, but a journal feels less intimidating.
How to Start a Parent-Child Journal
The first step is to find a journal. It could be a $1.00 notebook or a nice, leather-bound book. The look of the journal doesn’t matter as much as what is put inside.
Once you have the journal, it’s time to start! To start off, it’s easiest to write a few prompts for your child. Ask them a thought-provoking question, and see how they respond. Then, the next day, you write back to them. Make sure you write something about what YOU think or wish! You are forging connections here.
Pick a place to store the journal. If your child writes in the journal at night, he may want to put the journal on your nightstand in the morning. Then, you can place it back under their pillow once you respond.
Journaling Isn’t For Punishing
This activity should be something that your child enjoys, creating little secrets between parent and child. A journal isn’t a place to punish or shame your child for their actions.
It isn’t the time to tell them that their behavior towards their sister that day was wrong. All that will do is cause your child to stop writing to you.
If there is an issue at hand, you can pose questions to help remedy the situation. For example, if you’ve noticed arguments brewing between your child, you might write something like:
“I’ve noticed you feel quite angry towards your sister lately. Do you want more time separate from her?”
“You seem to be upset about your brother touching your things. Do you have any ideas about how we can help the situation?”
Encourage working together to remedy situations in the journal rather than shaming or punishing them!
Also, correcting spelling or grammar is never a good idea while journaling. It takes the fun out of the activity, and your child is likely to be too ashamed to want to write.
Journaling with Non-Readers and Non-Writers
Just because your child can’t read or write doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy this together. Instead, use a notebook to draw together or take turns adding things to a picture to create a scenery.
You might decide together to make a forest, so you draw a tree one day and then your child draws another tree the next day. Journaling with non-readers can be fun!
For preschoolers and older non-readers and writers, write a question for them and then you write their response for them. Encourage your child to ask you questions and you write out your answers just as you would with older kids.
Journaling with your child seems like a daunting task, but it becomes easy and fun after you establish it. Use it as one tool to build a strong relationship with your child.
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