Experts Talk: How Journaling Can Benefit Your Child with Vitiligo
As the mother of a child with vitiligo, I know first-hand the value of journaling in helping kids deal with some of the emotional stress of a life with spots. Looking for more information, I decided to speak with Ashley Albers, LPCC to get more insight into the topic.
A professional clinical counselor based in Kentucky, Ashley works with children and adolescents. She has experience with children who suffer from depression and anxiety, and has also worked with patients who have experienced trauma or have ongoing medical conditions. With that in mind, I knew she would be able to share some insight into journaling as a tool for children with vitiligo.
JH: Let’s start with the basics. What do you see as the benefit of journaling for a child with vitiligo, or kids in general?
AA: Journaling helps children to increase awareness of their emotions which also helps them in emotional identification and expression. When children are able to better identify and express their emotions, they can then further develop their ability to verbalize their emotions as they experience them. Also, when children are able to better verbally express their emotions, they don’t have to express them through behaviors, so aggressive behaviors and anger outbursts decrease as a result.
JH: How can parents get involved and how can the child’s journal support the parent/child relationship?
AA: Journaling is helpful for the parent and child to work together – if the child allows the parent to look at their journal – to identify patterns of behavior and emotions. When you can identify an emotional or behavioral pattern in your child, you are better able to predict, plan, and prevent potential challenges throughout the day. This sets your child up for success and you are able to enjoy each other more throughout the day.
JH: How should a parent introduce journaling to their child?
AA: The idea here is to make it fun. When introducing the journal, maybe you can have a special “journal shopping trip” to the store where you allow the child to pick a notebook at the store. Once you have picked the notebook, you can have the child decorate it to make it their own. I would recommend identifying a specific place where the child will always place the journal to reduce the potential of it getting lost.
JH: How often should the child be journaling and what specifically should we have them write about?
AA: I would recommend the child pick a consistent time each day to write in the journal. Also, explaining that the child can write in the journal when he or she has difficult emotions and needs to write to calm down would be helpful. Finally, explain to the child that they are to write the date and their feeling for each journal entry. After they write the date and feeling, then explain that they can write about the events of the day if they wish. I always stress that children at least put the day and feeling down to be able to track patterns.
A couple of other notes about our conversation. Ashley mentioned that if your child is too young to write, that you can always have them draw pictures or, if they let you, you could help them include the words. And before you get started, be sure to have a discussion about privacy and the journal – are you going to be allowed to see the journal, or will this be a private place for your child?
What are your thoughts? Have you tried journaling with your child or will you give it a try?
Julie Hartley is a proud mom to Leah who has vitiligo. Leah loves animals, art and playing with friends. Julie lives in Northern Kentucky with her husband Chad, son Chase and Leah.