Inside: Blank journals can work for teens and adults, but most kids need more support for journaling to work well. Here are the best journals for kids that will help your child get all the emotional benefits of journaling for kids.

Some mornings before school, my 9-year-old daughter won’t eat her breakfast, no matter what I say.

“You’re going to be starving when you get to school.” “This is your last chance to eat for six hours.” “You won’t be able to focus on anything if you’re hungry.”

She’ll take a bite or two to get me off her back, but that’s it.

Or on other days, she gets home from school, grabs a book, and heads straight for a quiet spot to read, barely acknowledging me or her little sisters.

In both situations, I used to needle her for an explanation: What’s wrong? Did something happen today? What are you worried about?

But that never worked, and eventually I got the message. Because when you’re in the middle of real emotional upset, you don’t exactly want someone following you around and incessantly bugging you about it.

How do you help a child who's upset but won't talk about it? What You Don’t See As a Parent

My child happens to show every bit of emotional upset outwardly, but every child experiences big emotions on a regular basis that they don’t know how to talk about or process on their own.

For example:

Another kid might have said something mean to your child, and it’s been eating at her all day. Your child might have received a homework or test grade that made him feel like a failure. Her class might have been running late on their schedule today, meaning your child had to rush through lunch and didn’t get to take a bathroom break mid-day. He might be stressed about having to speak in front of the class soon or about a big project he doesn’t know how to get started on. She might have heard about a birthday party her friends are going to but that she didn’t get invited to.

Every day, our kids encounter moments like this that leave their little hearts bruised.

As parents, we typically don’t know about these moments, and our kids don’t necessarily know how to bring up what happened in a positive, proactive way. Which makes sense because some adults don’t even know how to do that!

So how can we help our kids process these emotions and move forward?

Because if I’ve learned anything from watching Frozen 42 gabazillion times, it’s that “conceal don’t feel” is not a recipe for emotional wellbeing.

And as it turns out, research shows that kids who have a healthy emotional intelligence do better in school, have more positive relationships, and develop more empathy.

Related: 150 Family Conversation Starters That Will Unlock Your Child’s Heart

Kids with a healthy emotional intelligence do better in school, have more positive relationships, and develop more empathyPhoto by Caitlin Regan How to Help Your Child Learn and Grow From Challenging Moments

Asking a direct question like, “Did anything happen today that upset you?” usually doesn’t work, and as I learned, needling your kid until they spill the beans isn’t terribly effective either.

 

But about a year ago, I stumbled on one essential tool for my parenting toolbox that’s helped my daughter process big and small emotional bumps in the road: journals for kids.

Journaling is a powerful tool for coping with emotions – for kids and adults – because:

The emotional release you get from journaling can lower anxiety and stress, plus help you sleep better. Journaling can put you into a state of mindfulness, where your negative experiences don’t seem quite so earth-shattering. Writing by hand about your emotions helps you better understand and process those emotions, and it also seems to unlock the maximum calming effect related to journaling.

Not to mention journaling is an excellent (and fun) way to help your child build your writing and communication skills. Many kids get discouraged by the experience of writing in a school setting because they get negative marks for grammatical errors or misspellings instead of encouragement for expressing themselves. Journaling gives kids a positive and healthy way to express themselves without fear of doing it “wrong.”

And yet, as effective as journaling is, you can’t just throw a blank journal at your child and expect magic to happen.

Related: 7 Best Family Bonding Games That Will Help You Reconnect Quickly {Printable}

The best journals for kids that will boost your child's emotional intelligence 10 Best Journals for Kids That Will Boost Your Child’s Emotional Intelligence

Blank journals can work for experienced journalers, but most kids need more support for journaling to work well.

The problem is if you go search Amazon for “journals for kids,” you’ll get a whole slew of results to wade through. How do you know which journals for kids are the best ones? How do you find the kids’ journals that will actually help your child get all those emotional benefits of journaling?

In my family, we’ve taken several kids’ journals for a test drive, plus I’ve been kind of obsessive about asking friends and family if their kids use a journal, which one they use, and if their kids enjoy it and keep up with the journaling.

The list below is the culmination of our own personal experience as well as the experience of many other families – so you don’t have to wade through hundreds of Amazon reviews to find out which journals for kids are the absolute best.

1. Just Between Us: Mother & Daughter or Between Mom and Me: A Mother Son Journal

One of the best ways to ease your child into journaling is by joining her with a shared journal. We have personally used this mother-daughter journal, and my friends with boys have loved this journal for mothers and sons.

You take turns with your child writing in this journal, and in the process, you find out what’s weighing on your little one’s heart. Of all the journals for kids on this list, this one has been our personal favorite because it gives you a magical way to get your kid to open up about what’s going on so you can stay connected.

Side note: Unfortunately, I haven’t found any high-quality “dad and me” writing journals for kids that build the father-child relationship in the same way. If you know of one, please let me know in the comments!

This journal for kids is the perfect fit for moms and daughters who want to connectOf all the journals for kids on this list, this mother-daughter journal is our personal favorite 2. Mom and Me: An Art Journal to Share or Draw with Me, Dad!

A similar journal that a few of my friends rave about is this gorgeous mom and me art journal.

One of the co-authors is a licensed art therapist, so the book includes tips on how to start an open conversation with your child, the best ways to communicate when you’re creating side-by-side, and more.

Draw with Me, Dad! is from the same publisher but written by a different author who’s a licensed psychologist.

If your child isn’t ready for a writing journal quite yet, these art journals for kids give you a fun way to dip your toe into the world of journaling for kids.

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3. Q&A a Day for Kids or for Teens

This is another favorite in our family. You can fill it out as a family, or each child can have their own journal to fill out.

Here’s how it works: Every day, you answer one question from the book. You record up to three years of answers on the same page, which means after a year you get to see the answers from the previous year. Adorable!

This is how we started ours when we first got it:

If you love this journal idea, you can also get a version of this journal for couples and one specifically designed for moms.

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4. Me: A Compendium

In this journal, kids draw or write to fill in the prompts on each page. The illustrations are gorgeous, and the simple design makes this journal the perfect fit for preschoolers, kindergarteners, and early grade schoolers.

This journal for kids is perfect for preschoolers, kindergarteners, and early grade schoolersThis fill-in journal is perfect for younger kids

The prompts on each page are fun and keep kids engaged, from “This is my favorite thing to say” to “If I had a robot, I would program it to…” and “These are my top three ice cream flavors.”

After your child fills out this journal, it makes a one-of-a-kind keepsake.

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5. Time Capsule

With prompts like “How to have the best day ever” and “How to fix the worst day ever,” this kids’ journal is for an older crowd than Me: A Compendium. The publisher recommends ages 8 and up, but I’ve heard from parents whose kids enjoyed this starting at the age of 6.

A few parents reported that this journal was particularly great for getting reluctant writers excited about writing, which is a fun bonus of journaling for kids.

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6. Choose Kind Journal

If your child enjoyed the bestselling book Wonder or the movie based on the book, this journal is a lovely tie-in.

The journal includes daily prompts to inspire kids to “do one wonderful thing every day,” from writing a compliment for someone else on a Post-It Note, to reflecting on someone who’s taught you something you’ll always remember, to a challenge like, “How many smiles can you give out today?”

The prompts also feature quotes from the book, so this journal would be best for kids who’ve already read the book or seen the movie.

This kids' journal will inspire your child to be kindThis kids’ journal will inspire your child to be kind 7. I Love Science

This journal is tailored to kids who like to tinker, discover, and experiment. It’s from the same author as the bestselling (and gorgeous!) Women in Science book that features 50 profiles of famous female scientists. (The journal is geared towards girls, but I know of a couple parents who got it for their boys who love science, too.)

The book includes inspirational quotes from famous scientists, fascinating infographics, and writing prompts like “What is a challenge you’ve overcome recently?”

Many of the pages include just a quote and no writing prompt, so this journal would be the best fit for a child who feels comfortable with journaling without a prompt.

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8. Rip the Page!

For kids who enjoy creative writing, this journal includes writing prompts, notes of encouragement from famous authors, and fun activities for getting your creative juices flowing.

This journal will definitely get your child thinking outside the box when it comes to writing and creating. I’ve also heard from some teachers who’ve used this journal to create their writing lesson plans.

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9. Journal Sparks

When your child is ready to move beyond the fill-in journal style for younger kids, this is the perfect companion to go along with their first blank journal.

This collection of creative journal prompts includes ideas for both art and writing entries. Some parents enjoy using this alongside their child to journal together – and some parents just flat-out steal their kid’s copy when they’re at school or asleep.

Pair this book of creative prompts with a blank, unlined journal like this beautiful leather journal that comes in several colors and sizes.

This book of creative journal prompts pairs well with a blank, unlined journalThis book of creative journal prompts pairs well with a blank, unlined journal 10. The Blank Comic Book

This blank comic book is a fun twist on a blank journal that will spark your child’s creativity – the blank panels encourage kids to design their own comic book.

This journal is especially perfect for kids who love comic books and graphic novels.

I’ve also heard from friends that these blank comic books work well for a wide age range because preschoolers can draw a story without having to write words, and teens can get pretty detailed in their storytelling.

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What are your favorite journals for kids? Share in a comment below!

10 best journals for kids that will boost your child's emotional intelligence Author informationKellyKelly

I’m a mom of four, a recovering perfectionist, and the author of Happy You, Happy Family. Parenting is hard enough without all the guilt we heap on top of ourselves. So let’s stop trying to be perfect parents and just be real ones. Sound good? Join my mailing list and as a bonus, you’ll get 25+ incredibly helpful cheat sheets that will ease your parenting struggles.

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