Blog Post by Peter J. Liang, founder@Leadership4Kids, bestselling author, speaker, and the creator of “I AM A LEADER — A 90-Day Leadership Journal For Kids (Ages 8–12)”
“The starting point of discovering who you are, your gifts, your talents, your dreams, is being comfortable with yourself. Spend time alone. Write in a journal.” — Robin Sharma
A question I often get from parents who attend my Leadership4Kids (L4K) workshops is, “Daily journaling is a great idea, and I can see how it could benefit my child. But I can’t even get them to brush their teeth every day, how do I help them get started with this daily journaling habit?”
That’s a great question, and there’s no simple answer. Every child is different, every parent is different, and every family situation is different. With that said, there are a few principles that seem to work well for kids. Here are three simple tips that you might find helpful.
1. Make it easy and fun with specific prompts.
There are different journals available, and one can even use a blank piece of paper, with no prompt. I don’t recommend using this approach for kids, as anyone who tried to write knows what a daunting task it is. Somehow, the act of staring at a blank sheet of paper can seem intimidating.
You can use journals with a generic prompt such as, ”Today, I am grateful for…” This might work for some children, but based on what I have seen over the years, that’s not enough. Kids need something much more specific, especially in the beginning.
What do I mean by specific? Here are some examples from the “I AM A LEADER — Leadership Journal for Kids (Ages 8–12).”
- Appreciate the first person you saw when you got up this morning. This prompt is very specific. Nothing abstract here and this prompt usually leads to an appreciation for one of the family members.
- Appreciate something you threw away in the trash can earlier today. Again, a very specific prompt, which leads children to be more mindful about what they throw away.
- Describe a recent stressful situation during which you are able to stay calm and focused. What helped you remain calm? Another very specific prompt, which leads children to learn how to deal with stressful situations from their own experience.
- What activities do you have planned for tomorrow that will give you a sense of achievement. Another very specific prompt, which prompts children to learn how to plan ahead.
You get the idea. Do make it easy and fun for your child so he or she can focus on doing the journal, rather than staring at a blank page. After a few weeks, this will become second nature for kids.
2. Do it EVERY day.
The key to success here is to do it every day. Yes, that includes weekends and vacations come rain or shine. It’s essential journaling becomes a daily practice. In fact, the words “journal” is derived from the same root, the French word, “jour,” which means “day”.
I often tell parents, don’t worry about how much time their child spends journaling. If it’s five minutes, great. If it’s thirty seconds, that’s great too.
There will be days they write a lot because there are things inside of them that want to come out, and some days, they might only write two words. That’s all perfectly okay as long as they do it every day, mission accomplished.
3. Set up a routine.
For the first few days, many parents found it useful to do the daily journal together with their kids, to encourage, support, as well as answer any questions kids might have.
Some parents incorporate the “daily journal” into their kids’ bedtime routine. They know it’s the end of their day — wind down, gather their thoughts, reflect on the day a bit and go to bed.
If you think about it, this makes perfect sense. In this day and age, children crave simple, laid-back, and quality time with their parents. This is a great way to spend a few moments together as a family.
So, there you go. A few simple tips that seem to work really well for many parents and their children. If you have a good approach, please leave a comment below, I would love to hear from you. Thank you.
To learn more, check out
“I AM A LEADER — A 90-Day Leadership Journal For Kids (Ages 8–12)” — #1 New Release on Amazon in Children’s Social Skills Category.