One of the easiest way to connect with your child when he or she is going through troubled times is to offer a Mommy and Me Journal.
What is a Mommy and Me Journal
Consider Mom and me Journals as a type of Parent-Child communication journals. They are a great way to connect with your child when they may be going through a difficult phase. You may find them even more helpful during the teens years.
These days, during the lockdown, Journaling can definitely help our children. I have written in detail about Journaling for Kids and the 10 reasons why your child needs to write a journal. But let’s talk about why parents – especially mothers should be journaling with their child.
A ‘Just Between Us’ Mommy and Me Journal
When my son was in grade 2, he started having growing up troubles. There were frenemies and strong emotions to deal with.
But, I had a baby and a toddler. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t find enough time to spend with him. Whenever I found time to talk, he was so very angry to be able to express his emotions calmly.
It was as if he was a shaken up bottle of fizz! We were both unable to communicate properly. There would be outbursts and blaming. Most days, there was resentment. I found that what he really needed was to be able vocalize his thoughts but without me hearing all of it.
I wanted him to listen. But he wasn’t really interested in listening to me.
So… I gave him a notebook and told him to write down whatever was bugging him. I promised him I would read it. If there was anything he wanted me to know, anything at all that he was finding very hard to say to me, I told him to write it in the notebook.
It has been four years since then and we love our Mommy and Me diary. I love reading his thoughts of ‘what went wrong’ or how he saw a particular situation. I learnt so much about my son from our little notebook. It was like peaking into his mind.
Just between Us: Mother and Daughter Journals
Growing up my mother used to often write me letters when things didn’t work out. I was a typical fury rebellious teen, and I must confess I liked to push all buttons at the same time. Just like my son, It was hard to get across to me when I was angry but when mom wrote a letter she always made sense. On the face, I hated talking about stuff with her but when she wrote it to me, I would always read it.
If you are struggling to connect with your child, a Mommy and Me notebook is a good idea.
My eldest is a son… I applied the same idea with him. My 7 year old daughter needed it in grade 1. They could both read and write by then so may be that is why it worked.
I don’t recommend starting before 6 years though… Kids usually don’t have the maturity to express their feelings in words before then. You can introduce other forms of journal writing before that age but they will fill it up more with random tit bits than proper writing.
(My youngest threw a massive tantrum when we went out to get her sisters notebook… so I got her one too but it doesn’t serve the purpose at all.)
Difference between a Journal and a Mommy and Me Notebook:
Giving children their own notebooks is the easiest way to get them to enjoy writing. It helps them improve not just their writing skills but also take interest in books and how they are written. There is a difference between a Journal and Mommy and Me notebook though. The former is just a place for them to journal stuff. The later, however, is more special.
Starting your child on a Journal is always a good idea. I started my kids when they were mere toddlers. In recent years, my girls have been carrying their journal with them every where we go. Last year alone, my daughters (age 4 and 5 then) finished 2-3 notebooks!
Journaling is a great way to bring out your child’s creativity and imagination. You can have various Journaling prompts for them to keep the interest alive. It helps them practice what they are learning, copy ideas from everyone and everything around them and most importantly, it helps them learn to keep a log of things.
I have some great memory books of my kids thanks to these journals. Silly drawings, maps of places we went to, misspelled stories and a glimpse into how they saw the world at that age.
Coming back to the topic of a notebook for your child and you, Mommy and Me Notebook is not the same as a journal. Your child can have a journal from any age but an M&M notebook will have to be from when they trully need it.
How and when can I start a Mommy and Me Notebook for my child
My experience has been that children under the age of 6 don’t really understand how to use it. A journal would be much better for them to scribble and doodle in when they are that small. A Mommy and Me notebook is better after age 7 and that too when you start noticing that they need one for emotional reasons.
Now that you know when to introduce it, how should you introduce it.
1. Buy your child a notebook of their choice.
My daughter and I actually set a date and went shopping for it. We went two to three places around town before she found something she really enjoyed.
My son was very easy. I had a diary that I had recently bought and he instantly fell in love. So I just gifted it to him.
My advice is to let them take ownership of their book. Find them something they really want to write in because they may be using this for a long time.
(Are you in Saudi Arabia? This pretty floral one is something a girl will love. Here’s one with a number lock that is suitable for even boys.)
2. Buy them some stationary.
We made a pretty bookmark for him that would signal that there is a new ‘post’ in it. My daughter wanted stickers and bling. They also got glitter pens later on but a good pen is always nice.
(Are you in Saudi Arabia? Check out this Journaling accessories that your children will love!)
3. Talk to them about the purpose and how to use it.
I told him that if there was ever anything worrying him or if he had secrets to share with me – things he couldn’t tell anyone but he wanted to say to someone, this was the place. The Mommy and Me Journal was the place to write all those pent up feelings.
It was up to him if he wanted me to read it. If he wanted me to reply he could ask ‘What do you say mom?’ If he didn’t want me to say anything, just don’t ask that question.
After he was done, he would leave the book on his desk and place the bookmark on it to signal that I should read.
My daughter does the same. She write in her diary and then generally at bed time she comes to say, I have some ‘secret’ I have written for us in the notebook.
Can I write in their diary?
Yes. So far in the past five years, I have only had to write twice in my son’s diary. Once when his best friend won a competition and belittled him. He was jealous and asked me how to react.
The second time was when he had a terrible accident and was afraid that the world would judge him. ‘How do I face the world mom‘, he had asked.
The most important thing to remember
Writing in your child’s diary is like writing on their heart. Choose you words wisely. Only write if you are sure of what message you are sending. Be kind. Be kinder than kind. Your child wants your guidance to make sense of the world. What you say on that page will make your relationship a little bit stronger or it will break his/her heart.
I hope this post was helpful.
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