Are you looking for ways to instil discipline in your child's life? Are you wondering how to keep him productively engaged? Are you thinking about how to set him off on a path of continuous self-analysis to develop a holistic personality? What about also empowering him with excellent communication skills, and analytical and creative thinking abilities along the way?
The answer to all these questions may lie in the art of journaling, or diary-writing as it is more commonly known. Diary writing holds out the promise of multiple long-term benefits for a child.
To start with, penning down thoughts and emotions based on experiences has a therapeutic effect on the mind and helps attain inner peace. Besides being a creative pursuit, maintaining a diary also creates a record of memories to look back at.
Keeping a diary also helps to reflect on past experiences, learn from them and analyse where one stands in life. Moreover, it also helps to improve penmanship.
So how can you make your child take to this habit and ensure that he keeps at it? Here are some tips:
1. Explain the importance of writing a diary to your child. Once he comes to know about its various benefits and begins to appreciate them, he would be motivated to take up diary-writing. You may also consider showing him a few diary entries of your own, if you keep one.
2. Make your child read famous diary entries. This will inspire her to make her own diary entries and also give her ideas on how to enhance her diary-writing skills. A famous diary that is now available in the form of book is The Diary of a Young Girl. It is a record of the memoirs of a teen named Anne Frank who was hiding from the Nazis during World War II, and was later captured and forced to stay in a concentration camp for the Jews. Then, there is also the more recent Diary of A Wimpy Kid, which is a journal written by an imaginary character Greg Heffley.
3. Gift your child a nice-looking diary or a notebook to get started. Children, especially younger ones, are most likely to take to diary-writing if they find that the layouts of the diaries or notebooks are attractive. So, let your child choose and buy his favourite one. Also, once you bring the diary home, you can help him personalise it with some creative artwork.
4. Decide what the diary entries will be about. There are several types of diary entries. A few ideas that you can suggest are:
- Long-term and short-term goals (academic or life-oriented)
- Life lessons learnt everyday
- Report of learning a new skill or pursuing a hobby
- Daily record of the day’s schedule
- Observations of people around
- Record of feelings based on experiences
If your child can devote a good amount of time, she can make entries about all these points and not restrict herself to one or two.
Diary entries can be of an impersonal nature as well. So, if your child has interest in sports, films, current affairs, literature and so on, she can pen down her thoughts on topics of her choice. This will improve her analytical thinking and writing skills, and fuel her desire to actively seek knowledge.
5. Tell your child to be honest in whatever he writes without the fear of judgement. Also, let him not worry about making mistakes or about how well he would be able to express his thoughts, as this will improve with time. If your child gets obsessed with achieving perfection in his entries, then chances are that his progress would be slow.
6. Ensure that your child writes in her diary regularly. Set aside a particular hour in the day when she should sit down to write. Also, decide how much time your child will spend on this activity and make sure that she adheres to the time limit. Keep her surroundings free of distraction during the hour allotted for diary-writing. This will help her focus better. If your child does miss out on writing on a particular day, then make sure that she makes up for it the next day or soon enough. This will make her take the activity seriously.
7. Encourage your child to explore innovative formats of writing. If your child is in the age group of 6 to 9 years, you should think of ways to sustain his interest as children of this age group may find it difficult to write lengthy entries. Let your child write short sentences about his daily experiences and add a few sketches to accompany the text. Occasionally, you may also have him stick colourful pictures to go along with his entry. This will make it an interesting activity for your child. Older children can explore lengthier prose and more creative formats; for example, writing a story or a play based on daily encounters.
8. Guide your child in writing better but also respect her privacy. Encourage her to share her entries with you so that you can track her progress and offer useful tips to improve her writing. However, do this only when your child willingly wants to share her entries with you; preteens are usually reluctant to share their thoughts with their parents. Do not intrude too much into her private space and let her personal diary remain ‘personal’. But, at the same time, remain available to your child whenever she feels the need to share something with you.
Armed with these tips, you can now guide your child to get into the habit of diary-writing with ease. So, don’t wait. Grab the next opportunity to gift a diary and have your young writer scribble away with joy!
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