Journaling the Journey: Writing Makes Everything Better

Something I do as an Organization Development professional and a Life Coach is journaling. Not so much that I become a navel-gazing moron, but I write down enough so I can sort things out in my head.

All OD pros do it. We’re taught to journal as part of the training. It becomes second nature to all of us.

Journaling helps me to clear my mind; express my creativity; know myself better.

When I know myself I can see how I am influenced by and how I influence the world around me. I can learn what brings me joy, or sadness. I can learn where my triggers or “buttons” are and even the responses I have to those “buttons.”

I learn my programming.

But it’s more than just knowing. It’s also being able to contemplate why. Why am I programmed this way? Why is it I love the smell of rosemary? Why does the color blue make me so happy?

And why, for example, don’t I like it when my kids’ playing hits a certain volume or pitch?

I gave myself time to write it down. And I learned that once a certain volume and pitch is reached, even if it’s laughter, someone gets hurt soon after. Crying and yelling starts. And I end up stomping up (or down) the stairs yelling and mad that they can’t just play together without someone getting hurt.

But now that I know all this – the button and response – it means that I can consciously watch for the trigger. In fact, the more I journal and contemplate I can even watch for the finger about to push the button.

Once I can do any of that I can then consciously change the response.

Journaling isn’t just for psychologists or organization development professionals. Journaling isn’t even just for adults. Children also benefit from writing down their thoughts.

Children’s journaling doesn’t have to be just writing. Poems and essays are great, and so are drawings, collages, stream of conscious lists. Journaling builds empathy and gratitude in children. It brings what they know subconsciously up into conscious realizations.

Journaling gives children a safe way to express negative feelings. Children can write out stories about bad days or rotten experiences. They can sketch out scripts to test conversations they might have with a classmate who is picking on them.

Journaling helps them play with mental creativity. Drawing, writing scripts, creating comic strips. This kind of creative self-expression can also help children heal from physical and emotional damage.

This kind of healing through self-expression is part of the reason why those fancy adult coloring books are so incredibly popular right now. Coloring, collage, and doodling all have the effect of lowering stress, increasing focus, and developing mindfulness in both adults and children.

Usually I just use a notebook as my journal. I go to the local bookstore and pick out a book that speaks to me. I let the kids pick out whatever speaks to them.

You have to love the journal you are using. You need to want to carry it with you all the time. You have to love the feel of it in your hand and the look of it as it sits on your desk or on your bedside table.

270929e58cd262f03ec5dacb3117f28b_originalIf this is your first time journaling you might need a journal that is also a little bit of a guide. This new one called The Connected Hearts Journal put together by Sumitha Bhandarkar is actually one that combines a journal for parents and a journal for kids.

It has questions that prompt introspection and deeper thinking, helping me to get to know myself better as a parent and my boys to get to know who they are. Especially for my tween, who is right smack in the middle of becoming someone new.

The Connected Hearts Journal also has a sharing section, but still allows for my boys to keep their own secrets. It lets me tell them how much I care for them and gives them the chance to figure out where their own strengths lay.

Children don’t have the experience to be introspective or to make connections into their subconscious without someone to help them. You don’t have to use a journal like this, but for those of us who don’t have a lot of experience teaching kids about writing, a journal like this helps to guide them into being able to more freely express themselves in a safe and private environment.

Even if you just get a regular spiral-bound notebook, start journaling. The benefits are worth the time. Even if you just have 10 minutes once or twice week journaling can lower your anxiety and help you to better understand yourself.

How to Deal with the I WANT Monster, Positively

How to Deal With the “I WANT” Monster Positively

by Malinda Carlson. Published at http://www.afineparent.com

I hate shopping with my children.

There. I said it. And I’ll say it again.

I hate shopping with my children.

There is nothing I dread more than taking my kids into a store. Any store. Grocery. Clothing. Toys. Especially toys.

It’s not that they are bad children. They are well-behaved for the most part. But at some point as we are wandering around the store the “I WANT” Monster appears.

The “I WANT” Monster is a wild little Tasmanian devil. He comes whirling and spinning out of his cave at the first scent of anything bright and shiny and new.

“I want this.”

“Can I have that?”

“I need these.”

“Please, please buy me those.”

Everything around them is a candy-colored rainbow. It’s sooooo tempting.

“I just can’t stand it!” panted my 7-year-old son, standing in the Star Wars aisle of Target, tortured by the clones and Jedi surrounding him.

Me either, son.

What’s with all this greed? Where does the “I WANT” Monster come from anyway?

Every child wants things. Heck, we all want things. Just today I was tempted by a really pretty china bowl with metal hummingbird on the rim and a hot pair of heels that would look perfect with a dress I have.

In a world of television and social media overload our society has pushed “keeping up with the Jones’s” to a whole new level. It’s hard to curb materialistic desires, but here are 5 techniques that can help.  (Keep reading at A Fine Parent!)

Tween Emotional Tsunami

My 10 year old no longer wants a hug when I drop him off at school. When we go on the tram there is no acknowledgment of any relationship at all between us. It’s a complete pull back of affection.

But then there are times when he floods over us, drowning us in his desperate need for an intense, bone-cracking, never-ending hug.

This storm of emotions started about a year ago. It started with moments when he violently pushed us away, wanting nothing to do with us followed by demands for hugs, words of affection, and snuggles at bedtime. There was no predicting his moods. All his emotions were intense and huge. It was like being tossed around in a tsunami.

We have entered the Tween Tsunami Zone.

tsunami_preparedness

All the child psychologist experts tell parents to expect this kind of roller coastering of emotions as teenage hormones begin to rev up, getting ready for the big surge when they become full-fledged teens. We hadn’t even begun to wait and watch for these surges when BAM! here they were.

Our friends with teenagers tell us their horror stories to prepare us for full-blown teenhood.

  • It’s just like when he was two, except he was more reasonable then.
  • You are not to acknowledge their presence or the presence of their friends unless they ask for food or money.
  • He will smell so bad you will want to move him to the top floor of your house to keep the funk contained.
  • Your grocery bill is going to triple.
  • He’s going to make decisions so stupid you will not even believe it (like setting off fireworks in the bathtub).

E is practically a textbook tween.  He is spending hours in his room reading books – in fact, demanding it to the point where he and his little brother are fighting about rooming rights in their shared space.  He is rolling his eyes and huffing at me when I ask him to do things he feels he shouldn’t have to do or are stupid (which could be the same thing).  The slightest criticism or correction sets him off in an explosion of temper. He suddenly has an opinion about his hair length and wardrobe. Spending time with his friends has become waaaay more important than family game night.

All the signs are there. He doesn’t smell horrible yet and he hasn’t shunned us completely, but that time is coming.

So, short of inventing time travel and going back to when we were perfect and he was our little snugglie-boo, what can we do about it??

Here’s what we’ve come up with so far:

Give him space when he asks.

Hug him when he needs it.

Insist on family game and movie nights. 

Continue with electronic-free family dinners.

Insist on being treated with respect at all times.

Give him clear responsibilities.

Pick our battles.

Hang on for dear life.

This won’t make the path perfectly smooth. It won’t prevent him from thinking we are the most boring, uncool, dumbest parents ever. But hopefully it will keep us from getting swept away.