Child Wellbeing|Insights

with Francesca Geens, from HappySelf Journals

Journaling can be a great way to help your children process their emotions, improve their reading and writing skills, and communicate their ideas. According to several educational and mental health experts, there are lots of benefits of journaling from a young age. To delve deeper into this, we spoke with Francesca Geens, founder of HappySelf Journals.

Preschoolers

You might be surprised to learn that children as young as three can benefit from journaling. It’s so important for our children that we normalise nurturing our mental health, reflecting on our actions and talking about our feelings. The earlier we start, the better.

Journaling with this age group can be a lovely shared experience. It’s a brilliant opportunity to role-model healthy habits (either by sharing snippets from your own day, or – even better – journaling alongside them) and it’s a fantastic wind-down activity before bed. Journaling doesn’t need to be about writing but can be adapted for this age group through colouring and drawing whilst having a conversation about their day.

Children Aged 6 to 12

Kids at the younger end of this age range may also enjoy bedtime journaling as a moment of quality time with their grown-ups – and you might be amazed at how many meaningful conversations and glimpses into their lives you get out of it!

For older children, it can be a great tool for working through persistent thoughts and helping their brains slow down and get ready for sleep.

Having a dedicated part of the day dedicated to reflection and sharing the ups and downs of our days allows children to share worries, calm ruminating thoughts, learn to express their emotions and the benefits on anxiety, sleep, behaviour and mindset are plentiful.

Teenagers

Adolescence is a rollercoaster! But encouraging our teens to journal can be game-changing in terms of giving them a safe space for venting their emotions, prompting them to find the positives in each day AND building their resilience – something they’ll need plenty of as they progress through their teen years and into adult life.

And let’s not forget one of the best things about journaling at bedtime at any age – it’s completely screen-free!

Benefits of Journaling

It boosts our happiness

Keeping a gratitude journal is one of the most well-established happiness practices and the easiest to do. Research has shown that practicing gratitude in this way increases a sense of happiness as well as a range of physical, psychological and social benefits. And when the parents join in, they too feel the benefits too and it ripples across the entire family.

It calms our minds

Mindfulness has been linked through numerous studies to psychological and physical wellbeing. The simple act of journaling is an act of screen-free mindfulness and journaling prompts can encourage children to try a range of mindful activities. Mindfulness positively affects our brains, making the areas dealing with empathy, memory and emotional regularity more interconnected. The result is less stress, better sleep and more attentive behaviour. Children can calm ruminating thoughts and settle off to sleep feeling positive about their day.

It gives us space to reflect and share

Cultivating self-awareness and allowing children to show a true range of emotions is a proven route to happiness. Journaling prompts that encourage children to reflect on their emotions are a great way to encourage self-reflection and develop emotional intelligence. Journaling doesn’t need to be a private habit – try journaling together with your child to unlock meaningful conversations and give them a regular space to share any worries. Normalising talking about our feelings, and the ups and downs of our days, is a powerful way to give our children the tools to protect their own mental wellbeing. These are good habits for life.

About Happy Self

HappySelf create award-winning daily journals to promote happiness and develop positive habits for life. It was founded in 2018 by Francesca Geens, a parent who was concerned with the rise in childhood anxiety and mental health issues in young people. She became interested in the science of happiness and those simple practices that have been shown to have a meaningful impact on our wellbeing and brought this all together in a simple daily journal for her own children. Since then, their range has grown, been translated into 9 languages, and is now available for children ages 3-6, 6-12, and teens to enjoy.