Writing about life, particularly writing about feelings, has some surprising advantages. Whether your child is an introvert or an extrovert, he or she can benefit. Here are five great reasons to get your kids writing…and one sure way to get them enjoying it!
5 Great Reasons to Get Kids Writing
Writing boosts your immune system and relieves stress:
James Pennebaker, a Psychologist from the University of Texas, pioneered studies that proved this concept. His books reveal that writing about your life boosts your immune system, speeds recovery from trauma, and provides a strong sense of value. Another study done by the University of Missouri coined the term the “2-minute miracle” as they found that writing just two minutes a day for two days provided big benefits.
Writing helps kids discover and process their feelings:
Rather than learning a typical dysfunctional method to get through difficult situations (keep your head down, ignore your feelings, just plow through the tough stuff), writing about what’s happening in their lives helps kids think about how they’re feeling so they can discover and process those emotions. A much better way to arrive on the other side of trouble. That gives them a really healthy head-start in life. (Psst! This helps adults too)
Writing teaches reflection and empathy:
Reflection is the key here. If you’ve had a bad experience, a good way to break it down is to put your thoughts on paper. Kids learn to reflect on what happened, think about how they would react differently next time, consider motives of other characters in the scene, and develop empathy. As they practice, they’ll grow in emotional intelligence too.
“It’s never too early or too late to begin telling your story.” – Stacy Brookman
Writing helps kids express themselves and be aware of their surroundings:
Expression through writing allows children to become more independent and develop the confidence to face challenges in life. In a world where peer pressure is high, it’s important to nurture individual expression. By writing about the details of the world around them and how they experience it, kids are better able to solve personal issues with less help from their elders.
Writing teaches kids organization and how to fail well:
Schools rarely give kids a chance to learn how to fail. The beauty of writing is that you can mess up a paragraph, scratch it out, then begin again. This practical demonstration tells the truth that you can fail at something and it’s OK. Trial and error, finding just the perfect word to suit your mood, makes for a good thought exercise. Writing about an incident that happened at school last week helps a child think through the logical organization from inciting incident to the conclusion. Guess what they’ll learn along the way? Reasons the event happened in the first place. They’ll be that much wiser.
One Sure Way for Kids to Enjoy Writing
One of the most enjoyable forms of writing is to create Letters of Gratitude. Kids really get into it once they see the results. Deb Ross, the founder of KidsOutAndAbout.com, encourages families to write letters to local businesses where they have had a good experience. Even younger kids can help by dictating how the friendly waitress made them feel, or state their opinion about how a service person was helpful.
In this podcast, Deb talks about how her family wrote a letter of gratitude for a helpful salesperson at their local Home Depot. The business proudly posted the letter to their bulletin board, recognizing the salesperson, and the entire store celebrated it. Writing Letters of Gratitude helps kids focus on the good things in their life, and completes a circle of justice by returning the favor for someone who helped them.
“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” – William Wordsworth
Fascinating further reading and listening on helping kids become well-adjusted adults:
- Want to con your kids into becoming art connoisseurs? Here’s an article I wrote on that easy process.
- Here’s an article you might enjoy on The Best Way for Kids to Write Themselves Into a Better Story.
- “We have all of these weird urges or thoughts or ideas that don’t fit and you’re not allowed to say publicly. But if you can get that all out in not just a safe way, but a constructive way, you can use that to make something through stories,” says Author James Kennedy, creator of the 90 Second Newbery Award Film Festival. He explains fully in The Vomelette and Other Tales episode. What’s a vomelette? Listen to this fascinating podcast episode to find out.