Journaling is a great way to help kids sort out the feelings they have about military life. The benefits of journaling are numerous. Journals give children a place to write down and consider their thoughts and feelings. Journals are private, they do not judge or criticize, they don’t talk back or tease, they keep a record of events and progress, and they can be used anytime of the day or night.
Rachel Robertson, author of Deployment Journal for Kids offers suggestions to help kids of any age get started with a journal:
- Use a book with blank pages, or gather and staple blank paper together.
- Buy special crayons or markers just for the journal.
- Decorate the cover (have your child help).
- Ask your child to draw pictures and tell you about them. Write down your child’s words.
- Give them their own journal and special pencils or pens for writing and decorating.
- Include a scrapbooking element in their journal using pictures and stickers.
- Encourage your child to write down questions. Help find answers or discuss the questions if answers are not easy to find.
- If your child needs a writing prompt, try focused categories or questions, such as “What makes you sad?” “When do you feel proud?” “What is your favorite outside activity?”
Middle and High School:
- Let them choose a personal, private journal and a pen or pens.
- Encourage them to use the journal to keep a record of feelings, as well as events, accomplishments and celebrations.
- Encourage your teen to include art such as drawings, poetry, or songs, and to incorporate scrapbook elements.
- Offer guidance only if they ask for it. Teens should be able to journal creatively following the flow of their thinking.
At any age, encourage your military child to write in their journal as often as they like, particularly when they have strong feelings, whether happy, angry, sad, or confused. Particularly with older children, respect your child’s privacy and read the journal only with permission.
Rachel Robertson is a nationally recognized expert in child behavior management and early childhood education. She combined her professional training and personal experience supporting herself and her two children through her husband’s military deployments to create a series of journals for families during deployment. As well as Deployment Journal for Kids, she is the author of Deployment Journal for Spouses, and Deployment Journal for Parents.