The Value of Journaling

May 6, 2023

As your child gains a better understanding of their personal emotions and thoughts, they may begin to keep a journal in which they can write down things they prefer to keep private. While checking their journal may be tempting, it’s recommended to respect your children’s space and right to privacy.

When you are cleaning your child’s bedroom, it is quite possible that you may find a diary or notebook with the title similar to this: ‘’My Diary- Don’t touch!’’

Around the age of 8-12, children start to go through a wide range of mixed feelings and emotions. Writing down their feelings and emotions can have a positive effect on their mental health as it can help them to externalize, process, and organize their thoughts and feelings better.

For sure you may be curious about your child’s inner world. You may even be concerned that they may be keeping secrets from you and no longer trust you. However, their journal is an important element in developing an independent voice as they grow older and should be respected.

Diaries are proof that your child is learning there are boundaries between what they think and what they tell you and other people.

A journal provides a secure place for your children to express their feelings, especially those that are typically frowned upon by adults, such as hatred or jealousy. Your child’s writing abilities and memory will also increase by this age, so they’ll find it fascinating to create a private space where they can say whatever they want freely, without fear of adult judgement.

What to do when you find your child’s diary:

1. Don’t read it! You risk losing your child’s trust and affecting confidence if they discover you have read their journal. Most probably, there is just a basic retelling of their day’s happenings.

2. Welcome it. Do not see your child’s journal as an attempt to exclude you. Be pleased that they are developing their ability to reflect on their experiences. Writing in a journal has been shown in studies to lower stress and promote health.

3. Talk about good and bad secrets. It is important to explain why keeping bad secrets can affect us in the long term. Common feelings that we experience when we keep certain types of secrets are: sadness, worry, and fear. A ‘’good secret’’, owever, such as a surprise party or a gift, can give us feelings of excitement. Advise your children to speak with an adult if they are hiding something negative or serious.

4. Stay connected. Spend quality time together so your children have the chance to confide in you. Bring into conversation their friends and their relationship with them. It is common for children to open up more when the setting is neutral, such as in the car or while walking to or from the park. Highlight that you are always available if they need to talk.

5. Take their concerns seriously.
Their issues are important to them, even if they look irrelevant to adults. Active listening with your children will help them gain more trust in you and open up about their problems. A good technique to use with them instead of just offering advice is to ask them: ‘’What do you think might help?’’