Gratitude journals have become more popular than ever. If you are unfamiliar with this type of journal, it is one in which gratitude is the focus of your everyday life. There are many ways you may do this, and we will look at the many ways in which these journals can improve your child’s mental health.
What Are Gratitude Journals?
Gratitude journals are not new, but they are returning to fashion. Since the first written word, people have recorded their thoughts and feelings. Sometimes those were recorded as a warning to others for safety, but as time has moved on, they have begun to do so to remind themselves of the positives in life.
Gratitude journals generally have a space for writers to describe something they enjoyed, were thankful for, or made their day better. Some journals use a prompt, and others tend to be more open-ended. For children, however, a guided journal is often useful in the beginning.
What Are the Benefits?
Gratitude is always a great thing to have. It can also be challenging to see the things we should be grateful for having or doing. With a gratitude journal, you can teach your children to see the things in life that are beneficial or make them happy.
Disconnect from Materialism
We all have things that we do not want to give up; however, sometimes, children do not understand the value of items. I know that value is often associated with the monetary cost, but it can certainly apply to the sacrifices made to obtain it. Allowing your children to discover gratitude regularly makes it clear that material things do not make a person happy.
Teach Your Children to Slow Down
In this age of instantaneous gratification, we can often miss the things we should be grateful to have. For instance, children who are busy playing sports, games, and taking a full load of academic classes often fail to see the flowers blooming. When they fail a test, drop a pop fly, and get killed on their video game on the same day, it can be overwhelming and feel that everything is negative. However, with a gratitude journal, they have to stop between these events and consider the good people and good things they see in the world.
Teach Your Children to Recognize Effort
Sometimes, we just have a bad day. Your contact falls out while you’re driving; the lid to your case falls under your car seat when you stop to put it in solution; your first client is difficult and does not want to work with you today; you have a surprise client show up, and a million little things happen in between. We have all been there. This day is similar for children but may mean their lens fell out of their glasses while they were going to the bathroom; they spilled water on their shirt while washing their hands, their first homework assignment got torn, and they made a bad grade on yesterday’s assignment. A gratitude journal can remind them that they still had their homework to turn in even if they needed tape. They can still learn from the bad grade, and they fixed their glasses on their own. Teaching your child gratitude can help them see the good in the bad day.
Teach Your Children Respect
You may be wondering how a gratitude journal can teach respect, but it is quite simple. Gratitude teaches children that sometimes things are not as bad as they seem. They also begin to think about the thoughts, feelings, and emotions associated with their day. They will begin to consider that everyone has things they are dealing with that are difficult. These things were brutal in their day, but they were able to find a pleasant thing too. This might even encourage them to be better to others.
Journals like this can help children and parents open the door to communication. If they choose, they can talk to their parents about what they are putting in the journal. However, if they are not comfortable with that, it can still open the door for communication about thoughts and feelings. Journals give people the chance to consider how they feel. These considerations can help children communicate their feelings to their parents in healthy ways. It can minimize arguments because children will not be as overwhelmed with their emotions if they can write and work them out on paper.
You cannot teach empathy. However, most people do have some empathy for others. By helping your children start a gratitude journal, they begin to become thankful for the things and people that they have in their lives. They also may begin to realize that not everyone has a caring mom, kind father, or nurturing grandmother. That sister that gets on their nerves becomes a source of gratitude when he realizes that someone else may have lost their brother or sister due to illness or accident. We begin to see the things that are important when we practice gratitude.
Children who learn gratitude can also learn about what is important to them. Sometimes, we get caught up in the emotions from the frustrating day and forget the things that matter. However, we often do not realize how differently we can see things from someone else. Occasionally, this discovery of important things can help your child discover hobbies, career paths, or callings in life.
How Do We Start a Journal?
There are a million ways to create a gratitude journal. The important thing is to make it personal to the user. However, there are some things that you might consider putting in the journal.
Drawings, Sketches, or Creative Writing
Not everyone is good at writing down their thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Some people are better artists, poets, or songwriters. Allowing them to use the journal in their own way will also spark their creativity. Let them write a story where they work out their emotions and discover gratitude or a poem that chronicles all the beautiful things that they have seen that day. There is no right way to “write” in your journal.
Give your child direction for their writing. Sometimes it can be challenging to discover the good things in a day. However, there are hundreds of lists online that help the writer find the beauty in the day. These prompts can cover many topics, such as relationships (not necessarily romantic), family, religion, or other areas. These prompts can help them think about the people, places, things, and ideas they are thankful to have.
If you want to incorporate more than one of these, consider doing a theme each day. You could do thankfulness on Monday, Mental Health on Tuesday, Religion on Wednesday, Self-Discovery Thursday, Kindness Friday, Happy moment from the week Saturday, and looking forward to next week on Sunday. These are all available as prompts online. You could have a daily prompt posted so that your child could see what to write about, but they follow a theme.
If you do not want to make your child answer prompts, you could allow them to free-write about their gratitude and desires. They can write or do what they want in their journal. It is their journal, and there is no right or wrong.
While you want to teach your children gratitude, it comes from within. A gratitude journal can help them discover empathy, gratitude, and character traits. Many children grow up in a materialistic environment due to the behaviors of people outside of the home. A gratitude journal can help your child stay grounded so that they do not fall into the trap of living materialistically. There is no right or wrong way to create a gratitude journal, though. You should allow them to make the journal personal and share it only if they feel comfortable. You might even join them on the journey. Gratitude never hurt anyone.