The Use of Journals to help Kids of Divorce

“Journal Writing is a great way to help children express their emotions.  With journal writing comes the skill of emotional literacy,  that is the ability to understand, express and recognize feelings.  Encouraging children to write in journals gives them the gift of self-awareness. Children must be given certain words, a word bank they can use to improve their emotional literacy. The idea is to create a feeling journal in which they document their emotional reactions to situations.”   “Developing Children’s Emotional intelligence.”  By Shahnaz Bahman and Helen Maffini.

Thanks to a the movie Inside Out, a elementary teenager came up with a list of vocabulary words that should be included in a child’s word bank.    WORD BANK (MAD, SAD, WORRIED, JOYFUL,.ANXIOUS, HAPPY, NERVOUS, UNFAIR, HOPE, WISH, GRANDPA, GRANDMA). Obviously the more words added, the greater the potential to help children fully express themselves.

Children in the group will not know how to put their journals to good use at first.  Our approach to developing Journal Skills includes three steps:

Step One:  The group should be instructed on how to identify and handle certain feelings.

Step Two:   The group should be instructed on story telling. Members of the group would be presented with a picture of a child in a particular pose.  The picture would show the child looking stressed, lost, happy, sad.  Members of the group would then be asked to write a story about the picture they see. Why did the child feel the way he or she did?  What caused the child to feel this way?  What should the child do to resolve their situation?  The child would be encouraged to use as many descriptive words as possible to bring the pictures they see to life, including the words contained in the word bank.

Step Three:   No limits should be placed on HOW the children in the group express themselves.  The journal could be used as a story book.  The journal could be used to draw art, write poetry.  It could be in the third person or first.  What is important is that the child is using words to describe their feelings and learning ways to manage their emotions.

3 thoughts on “The Use of Journals to help Kids of Divorce

  1. However, parents must not take what is written as gospel. Children may express strong negative or critical emotions and if the parents raid the journal to use in the midst of a parenting battle, the journal will put that child smack-dab in the middle of the conflict and then contribute to the child’s distress. Moral of the story: If your child is going to use a journal, it shall remain private.

    • In total agreement. The journal is for the child not the parent. If writing helps the teenager – they should do it. Parents need to respect teenagers and their privacy. At kids first we require that our parents respect their teenagers privacy and let them heal.

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