It’s not always easy for children to verbalise what they’re thinking, whether it’s recounting a school day in more detail than monosyllables or discussing fears and worries they’re anxious about.
Like the rest of us, children have experienced strange times over the past year, with schools closing and opening and their education, extracurriculars and social lives regularly disrupted.
There are reports of rising stress and anxiety in youngsters, manifesting in anger, withdrawal and even tic disorders, according to the British Paediatric Neurology Association, as a result of lockdowns. While many are excited to return to school, others are feeling nervous about where friendships stand after months apart.
Starting a journal is one way kids can process what’s happening around them, writing down their observations, fears, memories and goals. Journals can help children develop a growth mindset and a gratitude practice from a young age, as well as improving their communication and writing skills.
“Keeping a journal is great for making sense of the world. Writing things down helps you to focus, to think clearly and to understand the way you feel,” says Mary Richards, publisher at Agnes & Aubrey, author of the Take Me series of journals for kids and a mother of four.
“As an adult, I love looking back at my childhood writing and drawing – it connects me straight back with how I was feeling at the time.”
The journals of 2021 are nothing like the spiral notebook diaries of yesteryear: now, you’ll find themed journals, focusing on everything from mindfulness and confidence-boosting to outdoor nature adventures. There are travel journals, worry journals and activity-packed creative journals to entice those kids who aren’t keen on writing.
Many of them include fun facts, inspiring stories and uplifting mantras, quotes and affirmations. Some of these journals can be personalised as an extra-special keepsake. There are also memory journals that parents can fill in with their little ones.
We tested a wide variety of journals with children aged 10, eight and five over several weeks, and are pleased to say that our kids have adopted a daily journal writing practice as a result, something they find enjoyable and calming.
The beauty of journals for kids is that there’s no right or wrong way to use them: kids can draw, scribble, circle an emoji to describe how they’re feeling or write pages of thoughts down – it’s an activity that can take as little as five minutes a day. Or, it’s something older children might want to spend an hour doing to unwind each evening.
Wondering how to get started? “Don’t worry about writing the same amount – or even anything at all – every day. You can use your journal to write very short notes – perhaps just a few words – to sum up how you’re feeling. You can take a break for a few days or even for a week, and then come back with new ideas,” advises Richards.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.