How to figure out feelings and express yourself through writing - advice for children from The Week Junior

Making words work for you

A girl sitting at desk and writing in a journal
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Have you noticed how some stories and characters in the books you read can help you see things differently? This is the magical power of words. They can lead you to a whole new way of experiencing the world around you.

How does writing help?

Learning to talk about your thoughts and feelings is a big part of life. From writing messages to your friends to making plans together, to answering questions at school, and talking with your family, words are amazing tools for communicating all sorts of things.

Writing isn’t just an activity that you do at school. It’s something you can do by yourself for your benefit. Keeping a diary (or positivity journal) is a great way to get creative and talk to yourself in the private pages. It’s a place you can be totally honest without worrying what anyone else thinks.

Research shows, this can help you to improve your confidence, reduce anxiety and boost your mood. Working things out on the page can also be a great way of solving problems, which has the added benefit of making you feel good.

Express yourself

Sarah Ratermann Beahan is a teacher who helps people express their emotions through writing. “When we have big emotions – sadness, anger, frustration, excitement – we can feel it in our bodies. Our hearts beat faster, we feel like we want to cry or stomp our feet. It’s hard to know what to do with ourselves in those moments,” she explains.

“Writing about our feelings, situations and experiences can help us manage those big emotions. Writing the story of our experience helps us figure out what we are feeling, a process often called 'naming'. When we name our experience, we can figure out what to do with it.”

Don’t worry about the rules

When you’re writing for yourself, the focus is more on what you think and feel, rather than getting things right or sounding clever. Sarah says: “It’s more important to let your story and feelings flow. This is a place where you don’t have to worry about the rules of writing! This writing is for you alone, and the process of putting it on paper is more important than how clear or correct it is.”

Talking to your diary

Writing for just 10-20 minutes a couple of times a week is a great way to help you to understand your feelings. Try these ideas:

  • Write about your day – what happened, how did it make you feel, what emotions came up?
  • Describe something that you’re proud of – what did you accomplish and why was this important to you?
  • What is something you’d like to change – what would you do differently and why, what would you like to do next and what’s one step you can take towards that?

Rainbows and clouds

Rainbows can’t happen without clouds. In the same way, challenging experiences – which happen and pass by like clouds – can help you appreciate the good things in life. Write about a challenge you experienced today (your cloud). Write about the best thing that happened to you today (your rainbow). Is there anything positive that can come out of your cloud?

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This feature was originally published in June 2024 in The Week Junior, which is also owned by Future Publishing.

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