Write On! Help Your Child Start a Journal

If your kids are angry or upset, tell them to write it down. If they can't fall asleep at night, tell them to get out that pen!

A private journal "helps bring resolution to things that have been troubling you. It helps you explore how you feel about something," says Gail P. Robinson, Ph.D., a past president of the American Counseling Association. Journals lend a shoulder to cry on, an impartial ear, or a track record of how far your child has come.

"Writing helps focus your thoughts on what's really happening," says Dr. Robinson.

Journals can also help improve your child's health and school grades, says James W. Pennebaker, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin.

Journal tips

Journal tips

Experts offer kids these tips on keeping a journal:

  • Write for yourself alone. Teens, especially, may be reluctant to write down their thoughts for fear their parents may find the journal. Dr. Robinson tells parents journals are private and should be left alone.
  • Don't worry about grammar or spelling. "A journal is not a letter," says Dr. Pennebaker.
  • Use the home computer for journal entries. Typing on a computer might be faster than longhand, although longhand forces more organization and has the space for doodles and drawings.
  • Develop a routine. When and what you write is up to you. It's your journal. But people are more inclined to write when they've picked out a time to do it, says Dr. Robinson. Date each entry.