We Need to Teach Our Kids to Blog: Here Are The Hows and the Whys
Writers are an emotional breed. We all know that.
We also know that through the art of writing, we are able to unleash those emotions. They get out of our brains and hearts, and are exposed for the world to see, or they are tucked away in a notebook, so we can see progress, memories, experiences and emotional highs and lows privately.
Writing our thoughts and expressions helps to compartmentalize what we think versus what we feel. Blogging opens us up to progression in challenges and celebrations in our experiences.
Why wouldn’t we teach our children to share in this art?
From the moment your child is born, you become aware of their emotions and their triggers. You also become aware of their personality, their joy, and their attitude toward you, as a parent. You have so many opportunities, as they grow into toddlerhood to document your child through photos, writing, observing them and bonding with them.
As soon as they begin to talk, you have the capability to encourage them to communicate their emotions and moods.
Blogging doesn’t necessarily mean that your child needs to know how to write. They simply need to communicate and you can help them.
Open up to them, by telling them you are going to work together to make a story. It’s a special story, all about THEM. This will spark their interest, especially if they have stories read to them often.
Know the questions and conversations you will begin with and have a pen and notebook, or laptop open. Sit in a comfortable area and begin a casual conversation. “Wanna sit down and write a story with me?” A curious toddler will be all over this idea. You can even give them their favorite toy, snack, drink, or anything they want to have in front of them. It will encourage conversation, even if they are slightly distracted. Make sure there is no TV or noises and make it clear that the moment is solely about them.
- Do you like that toy/snack/drink? How come it’s your favorite?- Take a few moments to write down what the response is. You may be surprised by the answers.
For example, if a child has a special bunny they pack around with them and you ask them why it’s their favorite, they may reply with, “because it keeps the monsters out of my room.” This opens up a whole new direction for your next questions. You can ask about the monster or talk to your child about the security in your house, or choose any direction to run with. This is the perfect example of a growth opportunity for both of you,
2. Can you tell me something that makes you sad? This gives your child an opportunity to not only open up and talk about feelings, but you may also hear some deep thoughts he/she may have. “I’m sad because I hate bedtime” or “I get sad when you take me to daycare.” Think of the ensuing chat this can open up.
3. What makes you super, duper happy? Children LOVE to talk about happy thoughts. Whether it’s Christmas, toys, Santa, candy, Grandma’s house, or their favorite movie, make sure you document these things. When you and your growing child look back on this blog, it will spark positivity and happy memories.
As their parent, you may choose to work on this blog once a week, once a day, or monthly. It is such a wonderful bonding time and you can learn so much about what happens in their heart and mind. Even if you document AFTER you have these conversations, keeping your own journal, make sure that you write it as a fresh conversation and that it is clearly written so it makes sense to your child, later.
As They Grow: (The Whys)
Chances are, your child will see you writing blogs if you are a regular writer. If not, you can always teach them the skill, when they are ready. Pull out the documentation and blogs that you have done together as examples and introduce your child to his/her childhood thoughts and expressions. Ask “Remember when” questions and ask them if they still feel sad when_____ or if _________ still makes them happy.
If they are not at writing/printing age, you can create blog collages with magazines and scissors and glue. They can cut out their favorite things and sit with you, gluing them on a large paper. You are then given a huge opportunity for discussion, creativity and bonding with your kiddo. Old toy catalogs, Parent magazines, newspapers, and the like are wonderful materials for this activity.
If you don’t have the magazines of newspapers to cut, you can also do a color activity. Red is angry, blue is sad, yellow is happy. The child can take crayons or paints to show you emotions. “How happy are you? Can you paint how yellow you feel?” “How sad are you? How much blue do you need today, on your paper?” They WILL talk. Even if it’s through brush strokes on their paper, you will see how they are feeling inside.
Once they are old enough to write or print, or use the computer, you can encourage them to keep on going. Show them your style of blogging and explain how it is such a great tool to express feelings. It is also imperative to let them know that they can keep it secretly to themselves or they can share if they choose to. The point is, to get it all out, so they can review, assess and acknowledge their own feelings and emotions. Even if they are mad at you, as a parent, they can get it out of their bodies and onto a format that is tangible and visual.
We all know how therapeutic writing is. Here are the Whys for children and youth blogs:
- Creativity- they may learn poetry formatting, essays, prose, dictation, or even stories in long and short form. Maybe they can write as a fictional person or in 3rd person. The opportunities are endless. They could even blog in cartoon or drawn formats. The important thing is to get their feelings out in the open. Artists of ALL medium and areas are driven emotionally to create their work; musicians, writers, actors, painters, artists who sculpt from clay- ALL OF US.
2. Transparency- Whether your child allows you to see what he/she has written, you will know that they are staying in touch with their own emotions. You may be able to see your child’s emotions as they write and it will give them encouragement to talk about how they feel. You could ask simple questions like “What was your blog like today? Was it happy or sad?” This invites them to talk about it and be transparent, even if you don’t see the actual words that were written.
3. Language Enhancement- We all know that we seek new words, every day, as writers. Encouraging your child to use different words to describe emotions, or write stories will give them a huge head start for education, communication and understanding. It will broaden capacity and compassion. Words like frustrated instead of angry, depressed, instead of sad, melancholy, instead of down, offers them spelling and grammar learning, as well as a clear understanding of how they are feeling. You could use this as a learning opportunity for BOTH of you.
“How are you feeling?”
“I’m feeling angry mommy”
“Why? What happened? Maybe it’s something else you are feeling?”
“My teacher gave me too much homework.”
“So, do you think you’re angry? Or, maybe you are overwhelmed or frustrated. Let’s look those words up and see what they mean.”
Think of what you are teaching them for school! A six-year-old once told me she felt “distressed” because her zipper was stuck on her jacket. I was amazed! It is so impressive when parents teach their children advanced vocabulary. Those children will do well in Language Arts, Social Studies, Sciences and every other language-based subject in school, especially when they understand the context of the words they are using.
I never spoke to my daughter in baby talk and I recall her teachers in grade one sending notes home that my daughter “speaks” at a grade 5 or 6 level. Her language classes were always A+ and she was an honor student all through school. She also knew how to express her feelings. (She was a journal keeper).
4. You BOTH learn. Even if your child doesn’t read your blogs and you don’t read their’s, talking about the process, the journey and the benefits. It will also encourage you to blog as you encourage them. You can open up so many doorways to gain an understanding of each other as well as the process.
5. It is an emotional release for every stage in life: Starting your child on a blog journey from an early age will set the direction of their future. Once it becomes a “normal” task or activity, your child will see the benefits and will learn that you don’t have to store emotions deep inside. Children has a tendency, especially in teen years, to NOT talk about anything, especially with their parents. Blogging shows them a way to communicate their day to day emotions, without having to feel the need to “talk”. However, with that said, blogging can also show them that it is OKAY to recognize their emotional status and to voice it. Blogging gives them an extension of their inner voice and pride in themselves for being able to understand and comprehend how they feel. It will also build language capacities with experiences so that they have a deep understanding of how they truly feel.
6. It is its own record of progress- Blogging gives us all a manner to look back in time. We can see where we were last year, last decade, or last week. Maybe we struggled with some major challenges as teens and wrote the details in our journals. We can look back and see how far we have come, or see what we can change to improve. It is a valuable tool, to see our inner selves and to make assessments based on the emotional attachment to our previous writing. It also can show patterns of ups and downs. Perhaps it can be a tool for teenage girls to see how PMS affects their lives. Or for boys, the tool can be used to see how puberty or even progress on a sports team has impacted them. Alternatively, if your child has an illness of any kind, you can track symptoms and the emotions attached to the illness in order to reach out for treatment approaches or a change of lifestyle. Think of all of the benefits we have, just looking back on previous writing and how we can adapt and improve our skills, our lives, and our emotional traumas or joys.
7. It can be a passion that could turn into a career- If your child really enjoys blogging, what is stopping them from progressing into being a writer? Maybe they will blog and be paid, or write a best selling novel, or learn how to conduct research papers for a major university. They could also be a lawyer or write regulations. The opportunities for writing, in any form, are endless. Teaching your child to write clearly with a wide vocabulary and in various styles is such a gift to them. Encouraging and providing them with every opportunity is priceless.
8. It can be done anywhere- Packing notebooks is so easy. You can walk and take notes in the forest, or near a beach, you can send a child with his/her notebook to summer camp. They can write at Grandma’s house, on a plane, on a bus, on a boat- literally ANYWHERE. This allows your child to write down feelings in an impromptu manner. “I feel so happy right now!” or “I miss my mom”. It may seem like a simplistic approach, but we know, as writers, how these small notes of reminder can inspire us.
I am sure there are many, many other benefits of teaching your children to blog. As writers, we all KNOW what we can gain, learn, and absorb from our craft. Instilling the same passions in our children is a profound and fundamental gift. It’s not only a gift, but a life skill, an avenue of education and a tool that will teach them success on so many levels. Self-awareness, self-assessment, and self-teaching is the single most important quality in a child’s life. While they are able to sort through the tangled emotions of growth, they will have the ability to articulate them. This gives them the skills to move forward and learn as they increase their momentum.
And WE have the ability to show and teach them.
Enjoy the journey, embrace the moments, take every opportunity to write with your child, in any capacity, and watch them fly.