We’ve heard the statistics about kids and depression, bullying, suicidal thoughts, and the like. As a mom, it makes me literally sick to my stomach to think about what kids are going through. I’m not going to scare you with numbers and data in this post – I think we get plenty of that in the news media. What I hope to do is to give you a small glimmer of hope for your child(ren) and a way they can cope with some of the junk going on in schools/life today.
Browse any bookstore and you’ll find a wide variety of journals for sale. If you’re like me, you have several unused sitting in your house right now. It’s time to put them to use.
Kids’ brains get overwhelmed just like ours do. They over process the events of their day and when you add social media to their world, it only magnifies the negativity they’re experiencing. Maybe they had a friend leave them at the lunch table and they wonder if it was because of something they said. Perhaps someone said something nasty about an outfit they wore after they spent hours debating what to wear that day. Maybe he had a goal to make a certain position on the team and his best friend beat him out. Maybe they have a fear of the test tomorrow, or college admission, or even the birthday party sleepover next week. Whatever it is, they need help processing it.
Something magic happens when you put pen to paper. Typing and texting doesn’t come close. When your brain has to make your hand form the letters, all those jumbled up thoughts seem to become clearer. Give it a try yourself and you’ll see. Take a challenging part of your day and write about it tonight before you go to sleep. I promise you’ll sleep better.
How to Start
Our kids need to instill this habit when they’re young so it becomes a respite and place of solace when they’re older. Start when they’re in 4th or 5th grade (or tonight if you’re kids are older than this) and have them keep a journal and pen at their bedside. Then have them spend 10 minutes alone writing about their day. Young kids can draw pictures or write single words. Older kids will write paragraphs or maybe draw pictures. Give them very little guidance. Let the Holy Spirit work in them and leave the room.
If this practice of journaling only happens a couple times a week, that’s a great start. Anything is better than nothing. This will help clear their head before sleeping, help them get a better quality night’s sleep, and let any of the junk floating in their mind stay out of the next day’s challenges. We all know that each day presents its own issues.
Show, Not Tell
Model this behavior for your kids. Already do this? Then make sure you do it in the open where they’ll see you writing. Modeling the behavior we want to see goes a lot farther than words we say.
This may seem overly simple and you’re wondering if it will really make a difference in terms of their sleep quality, mental health, and overall mood. If this is you, then I challenge you to spend two weeks making it a nightly practice of your own. I think you’ll reap the benefits and so will your family. Pass it on to those you love most and your home will be a healthier, happier (more rested) place.
Thoughts on what works well in your house? Be sure to leave in the comments below.