How to Create Meaningful Conversations with Children

As a strong believer in the power of journaling, I often talk about the benefits to young people as a tool for building emotional and mental well-being, resilience, and confidence.

But there is another little talked about benefit of journaling – creating meaningful conversations.

Conversations are a challenge in most households. I often hear during my UPower parents’ presentations…

‘I don’t know what my child is feeling or thinking.’
‘I’m not sure how to talk to my child.’
‘When my child acts in a certain way, I don’t understand why.’
‘I ask how their day went and I basically get no answer.’

Journaling Can Help Bridge The Gap

In some situations, young children don’t have the words yet and teenagers can be secretive. In others, emotions can get in the way during tough conversations.

A regular journaling practice can help both children and parents reflect on what is going on for them and can open the door for positive dialogues.

Journaling can also help start discussions about the regular day to day stuff. When I sit with my son and we journal together, I’ll ask him questions from his UPower Journal and his answers always surprise me. We end up talking about stuff that he wouldn’t have thought about sharing and he answers questions from the UPower Journal that he wouldn’t normally answer.

This helps us to connect, understand, and get to know each other even better.

Journaling For Every Age

A journaling practice will be different depending on the age of the child.

It’s helpful to pick a time that is the same each day. After dinner, before bed – a quiet time that works best for your family.

Under 8

You can start with children from a young age. They don’t need to be able to write, they just need to be able to share.

Start by asking questions and then write down the answers for them in their journal or they could practice their writing skills and write it themselves. Examples of questions found in The UPower Journal are:

  • What’s your favourite activity to do with friends ?
  • Imagine you could have any job in the world – what would it be? Why?
  • What are your favourite things to do on the weekend?
  • What did you do to show kindness today?

If your child would like you to be part of the dialogue, you could answer the questions as well.

Tweens

As children get older they can take over the writing and have more autonomy in their journaling practice. You can still facilitate by discussing thought provoking questions found in The UPower Journal:

  • One of your friends is upset that they are being left out. What could you say to them?
  • How would your friends describe you?
  • What are 4 things you wouldn’t want to live without?
  • If you could change one thing in the world what would it be?

Teens

Teens may be more private about what they write in their journal and that’s ok. It’s their own special place to express themselves knowing there isn’t any judgment.

You can still have an opportunity to create conversations by picking a question each day that you both journal about and share together. Examples from the UPower Journal include:

  • What are three things you do differently than your friends?
  • What’s the most important advice you ever received?
  • If you could change one rule your family has, what would you change? Why?
  • If you found a magic lamp and a genie popped out saying, ‘I will grant you 3 wishes’, what would they be?
  • What character traits are important for you to have in a friend?

Dig Deeper With Open Questions

As you start to talk about the answers to the journaling questions open the conversation up more with questions that require more than a yes or no answer. These could include:

What did you like/dislike about that?
How were you feeling when that happened?
What did you learn?

If you asked a question and got a short answer, a great follow up is ‘I’d like to hear more.’

Here are 4 tips to getting started with a journaling habit…

1. Make it non-negotiable to write at least 1 page each day

Your child may complain and that’s ok. Tell them to journal about it. It can feel hard to “force” your child to do something they don’t want to do. Try to keep in mind that just the act of setting a boundary helps them with their confidence and resilience. There will be many things in life that are good for them but might feel hard at first.

2. Write whatever comes to mind

They don’t have to write about anything in particular, especially to start. As the habit develops, you can encourage them to reflect on their emotions, write about what they are grateful for and what they want to create in their life.

3. Journal With Them

The best way to teach new habits is to model them yourself. Plus, you’ll be able to enjoy all the benefits of journaling for your own mental health.

4. Join The Free UPower Journaling Challenge Starting November 12, 2018

Each day for 30 days, young people will be able to experience the benefits of journaling by answering a daily question.

By exploring these questions and writing the answers, young people can start exploring their inner world, finding a healthy outlet for emotions and express themselves without fear of judgment. Please feel free to journal along with them. You might be surprised at each other’s answers and the connection you feel to one another.

For more information sign up here.



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