When my older children were younger, I’d tried to implement the habit of journaling in them. Especially in my daughters. Because none of them liked handwriting and was unhappy with her writing skills, we failed at this attempt. I also failed as a homeschool mom to make them love and improve those skills.
Why do we need self-reflection?
I thought there was no point in pressuring them, so left it there for years hoping that later on, when their handwriting skills would improve and become steadier, they would be more willing to try journaling again. As they grew older, I started to realize the negative effects of not keeping a regular self-reflecting habit, like journaling. It caused a lack of discipline, inability to handle stronger – especially negative – emotions, disorganization, ungratefulness, discontentment, and so on. Probably not this lack of self-examination caused all these problems, but missing it, took a chance away from us to handle them.
I believe that knowing ourselves and living purposefully is based on honest self-examination and self-reflect. My journaling habits in my teen years very much determined who I am today, and how I see myself. When I do poorly in my self-reflecting habits, I also experience all those problems that I see in my children. So I know I don’t want this for them. I want to let them go much more prepared when our times up than I was when became independent.
There are many things we should equip our children with for adulthood. One of the most important things is to take care of themselves mentally, spiritually and physically. Their mental health depends on whether they have a clear and sound perspective on their personality, abilities and skills, and whether they have dreams and goals. We can and should help them with these things. Just watching them drifting, getting in and out of good and bad habits, giving in to influence from peers, can be pretty dangerous, especially in those sensible teen years.
How can we help them?
The practices we help them with, shouldn’t be complicated. The journaling is the most thorough way, but not only my children are not up to writing. A simple gratitude-journal or a brief writing prompt occasionally may do the trick too. What I chose to do when I felt the urgent need to step up and take the job I’m obliged to as a parent while they are at home, is a very simple self-reflecting journal. It takes them about 10-15 minutes a day, keeps them on track so they don’t have to worry about what to write, yet their thoughts are channeled in the right direction.
How does a self-reflection journal work?
Our self-reflection journal has eight questions every day they have to answer. One is a random question that varies every day. The others are same every day.
- What did you learn today?
- What did you accomplish today?
- How would you rate your accomplishment?
- What was your biggest challenge today?
- What would you do differently?
- What are you the most proud of today?
- What are you grateful for today? Name at least 3!
+1. Random. It’s different every day. Mostly things I want to know their thoughts or feelings about, and it relates to the given days’ events or emotions. Sometimes it’s else. They love these random questions the most, and I love reading the answers to these the most. My 13-year-old son makes me laugh a lot. 🙂
Usually, the +1 question is the first one because I read the journal and then set up for the next day. It is just a better use of space and helps them answer the “boring” questions too.
They also can ask questions from me in this notebook, and I answer them. It’s beneficial in so many ways, but the greatest add-on that we get to know each other better. I’m so grateful that this little habit we are perseverantly instilling is such a huge help, not only in their maturing but our relationship too.
We also use a habit tracker grid for everyone in the notebook, focusing on their special habit-shaping needs. So it’s different for each of them. We really need to instill those habits and the tracker is a huge help.
How does it work for us?
We have been doing this with three of my teens so far (the forth, my eldest daughter is bullet journaling and we keep a mom-daughter diary too that we occasionally use, so she’s not up to this, unfortunately), and mostly they are cooperative. After getting into the habit of this simple self-examination, they could word the benefits for themselves. They started to see how it makes them more intentional, and how beneficial it is to maintain good habits. Soon I’d like to start with my 8-year-old too, because I believe, the sooner the better, and because she is really looking forward to it! She is the most easy-going with these kinds of things, she was the first asking for learning bullet journaling, too.
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It requires some effort on my part, and sometimes I fail. Sometimes they are feeling out of habit. So there are days when we simply miss it, but we do get back as soon as we can. We need ALL the benefits.
You can do it too!
If you want to help your children to instill healthy self-reflecting habits, try this straightforward and effective way. I made a printable for you to help getting started and have a crutch at hand. Download it if you will and use it for ALL the benefits!.
In this download, I wrote some examples for random questions too, that you don’t find in this post. I also recommend this series of questions if you run out of ideas. They are the best I’ve run into lately.
To sum it up
Teach your children to get to know themselves, help themselves, take care of themselves and have a healthy view of themselves. In the meantime enjoy getting closer to them and build a strong relationship with them.
Have a nice day! 🙂