“To you, an unstoppable dreamer and creator, who has the power to improve the world. We believe in you!”
So begins the Big Life Journal Tween and Teen Edition, a science-based journal designed to instill adolescents with confidence, resilience, and a growth mindset.
In each chapter, your tween or teen will gain crucial abilities, including facing (and overcoming) failure, setting goals, and establishing a positive mindset.
We already know that teens have enormous potential for growth and learning. Studies show the adolescent brain is wired to learn, and increased neuroplasticity means their brains make connections like never before.
How do we encourage our tweens and teens to get started with their journals, and harness this incredible opportunity to learn and develop?
Consider these three useful tips for engaging your tween or teen with their Big Life Journal, and ensuring the foundation for their confident adulthood.
Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our FREE Your Words Matter Kit. With these 10 popular parenting guides, you will know exactly how to speak to your children to help them develop confidence, internal motivation, and a can-do attitude.
Many parents are aware that journaling reduces stress, boosts mood, and even sharpens memory. It would seem that simply informing your teen about these benefits would be enough to get them engaged.
It turns out that sharing beneficial information with teenagers — despite our good intentions — is ineffective. A 2017 study revealed that teens perceive even positive efforts to influence their behavior as disrespectful.
When it comes to getting tweens and teens started on their journals, just how should we approach it? Christine Carter, Ph.D. and author of “The New Adolescence,” explains that it’s all about respect. “So, when it’s time to bring up the topic you want to influence your teen about, speak as you would to someone with the highest possible social status — someone you really, really respect.”
The key is keeping your teen from feeling nagged or infantilized. (“Why won’t you open the journal? You really need to do it!”) If you want your teen to listen (and who doesn’t), speak to them as you would an esteemed colleague. What tone and words would you use in communicating with that person about using their Big Life Journal?
Keep it going
Hooray! Your teen has cracked open their journal, learned the difference between a negative and positive mindset, and even found inspiration in the story of athletes Leah Culver and Muhammad Ali. But what's the best way to keep the momentum going past Chapter 1?
Your teen will require both time and space to journal regularly. Consider their schedule, and ensure there’s enough downtime to support a daily writing routine. If not, how can you help them prioritize?
One key to maintaining their journaling practice is identifying the time of day that works best for writing. First thing in the morning or just before bed are popular choices. (Tip: If your teen struggles to find a good time, check out pages 118-119 of the journal to identify their energy levels at various times of the day.)
You can also encourage:
Keeping the journal in an easily accessible spot.
Locating a "safe space” at home for writing that’s both quiet and peaceful.
Pairing journal time with fun activities like snacks or inspiring music.
Finding a journal buddy and holding each other accountable.
Model journaling by carving out time for your own creative writing. Talk about how you’ve selected your special spot at home and your favorite pen, and get writing too.
Finally, remember to maintain realistic expectations. If your tween or teen needs to skip a day or change the time they write, that’s perfectly okay. There’s no right or wrong way to journal!
Try a new angle
The journal is organized into five chapters and is designed to be completed in this sequence. If your tween or teen is resistant to this layout, worry not!
One of the best ways to engage your adolescent in the journal is through their interests and sense of purpose. Teenagers are naturally driven to seek new experiences, so now is the perfect time to explore their future dreams.
“Purpose starts with having an aspiration, dream, or intention. It’s finding a goal that feels personally meaningful...But the purpose isn’t just about you; it’s aspiring to achieve something that impacts the world beyond you.”
-Tim Klein, Director of Stanford University’s Project Wayfinder
In his work to empower adolescents and help them find meaning, Tim Klein has identified four key elements of purpose:
It aligns with our core values (examples: community service, social justice, animal rights, poverty)
We feel like our best selves
Our skillset grows
It makes a positive impact on the world
Your teen or tween is free to do the journal out of order, and start with Chapter 2 (Exploring You) instead. This section is designed to help them uncover their passions in fun and creative ways. In it, they will identify activities they most enjoy and notice patterns in their interests.
As they dive deeper into this chapter, talk with your tween or teen about where they’re already focusing their time and energy, and what kinds of issues “keep them up at night” thinking. These areas will provide clues for what’s most meaningful to them and what may contain the four elements of purpose.
Together, you may also engage in the Dream Board challenge (pages 84-85) to help make their dreams, goals, and aspirations more realistic. The board can be created in a physical or digital format, and include any words, images, or quotes representing dreams about their future life.
Enjoy the journaling journey
The Big Life Journal Tween and Teen Edition empowers adolescents to find their purpose, develop resilience, and dream big about the future. Packed with engaging illustrations and activities, the journal will help your teen learn more about their interests and discover their authentic voice. To ensure its success, introduce the journal with enthusiasm and respect, and help your teen make time for this crucial habit. And remember, there’s no wrong way to journal!