Coaching our teens to help them communicate both with us and with themselves is such an important role for parents, but what do you do with a silent teenager?
Journaling and art journaling can be fantastic methods of communication that encompass writing and visual communication tools to help work through issues and organise thoughts, whether our teens are going through times of trouble or a smooth-sailing patch.
For those of us who journal regularly in various forms, the benefits are clear: journaling gives us the opportunity to get out of our heads, take action by doing something with our hands (away from the dreaded screens) and create something that wasn’t there before, even if we aren’t sharing it with anyone.
We are all too aware as adults of how well our brains accentuate the negative thoughts and experiences in everyday life, and how it’s all too hard to retain the positive experiences. We need to teach our teenagers this trick of the mind too—our thoughts aren’t always the best representation of reality. Research shows a few minutes of regular positive focus can improve our health through impacting our hearts, heads and digestive systems in a positive way, extending to our immune systems and hormonal balance. We can engage our teens in journaling to help them find those few precious minutes of positive focus!
Read on to find out how to do so for teens who are naturally inclined to write or to draw or not at all!
Journaling for the writers
If your teen is naturally drawn to writing, then journaling is a perfect way for them to get out of their heads and reduce ruminating. One approach is to use the Morning Pages technique to brain dump whatever is swirling around and get it out of your head. Other journaling prompts, suggested by US business coach Jerry Colonna, include “Right now, I’m feeling . . . ”. This simple sentence allows your teen to just write, unconstrained, and to let everything out.
Writing out our current feelings can offer insights to whether we are falling into regular patterns when triggered by certain people, situations or events. And the writing doesn’t need to be lengthy or literature-worthy; even noting bullet points or three things to be grateful for each day can engage our brains to look outside of our own heads.
Journaling for the arty ones
For your teen who is artistically inclined, encourage sketching and doodling—an art journal can be a place to keep those drawings. Drawing is an equally valid way to get out of our heads for those who are visual thinkers and communicators.
As their enthusiasm for art journaling expands, it doesn’t need to be constrained to drawing alone. Art journaling can become a mix of media to include acrylic paints, decorative washi tapes, collage elements and a plethora of pens and markers. Art journaling has no rules so teenagers can write and paint over, decorate and embellish favourite quotes that resonate at different stages of their lives, and even immortalise the lyrics of their favourite song.
Journaling for the not so arty ones
Journaling is not out-of-reach for our teens who aren’t naturally drawn to writing or sketching. Journaling can be embraced by teens with some simple guidelines.
- Bullet journaling can reduce the pressure to write to jotting down just a few short sentences.
- Doodling and using coloured markers can also be equally effective by engaging the teen's mind and allowing a few minutes of positive focus.
- Teens who are adamant that they “can’t draw” can embrace collage as another way to get started in art journaling. Just use an old-fashioned blank scrapbook (remember those from primary school?), glue stick and scissors. Magazines can be used to find images and words that resonate and provide focus to how our teens are feeling.
Getting started with art journaling
Journaling is great for our teens as it’s easy to get started—all we need is a notebook or sketchbook, which are available at our local stationery stores, plus a good pen that suits your teen. Add in some coloured markers and a few crafting embellishments like washi tape and collage elements, and you and your teenager are ready to get started.
For parents, art journaling provides an activity where we can work in parallel with our teen. A side-by-side approach can lead to unexpected conversations while our minds and hands are distracted with our journaling.
Consider if art journaling is something that can help your teenager. With an open mind and a ”no rules” approach, it’s easy to get started with a minimum amount of supplies and a little know-how.
When you are ready to expand on your collection of art journaling materials, consider reaching out and taking a class or attending a craft show where you can be inspired by what others have created and see the breadth of craft supplies available to make your art journaling experience an enjoyable one.
The From Picture to Page Papercraft show is the place where you can find all of these journaling supplies and is running from October 11–13, 2019, at the Sandown Raceway, Springvale, Victoria.
Print a few copies and fill one out each day (or week) to remind you (or help your teenager to remember) to find things to be grateful for in your/their day.