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Do you keep a journal? If you ever have, you know that writing down what you’re thinking is a great way to figure things out. And no one needs to figure things out more than a teenage child.

Writing is thinking. Even if you don’t know what you think when you first put pen to paper, by the time you finish you’ve discovered what you know. Writing taps into the subconscious mind and reveals even to the writer ideas that were hidden. At times when a person doesn’t know what to think, writing is one way to find out.

And writing is history. Being able to look back and notice what was bothering you and then realizing that that’s been solved, makes today’s problems seem solvable too. Looking back and noticing that today’s problem has been a problem for a long time helps you finally take action to resolve this issue once and for all.

So encouraging your teen to keep a journal is a good thing to do. And now, during the summer, is a great time to do it. The question is, how?

If your teen already likes to write, just buying her a nice notebook and a set of gel pens might be all the inspiration your kid needs. The unchangeable quality of paper and pencil helps keep entries from being rewritten later and so preserves the journal as a record of the past. On the other hand, if your teen is most comfortable writing on computer, so that thoughts flow more quickly with a keyboard than a pen, then helping her set up a password-protected file might give her the inspiration to start.

If your teen doesn’t like to write, then start, not with a journal, but with a decision sheet. The next time your teen faces a tough decision, help him list the good and bad aspects of each choice. Just writing them down helps to make things clearer.

Or suggest your teen make a daily agenda – a list of things to do. These agendas accumulate to make a record of the entire summer. Along the way, having a daily list of things to do helps a teen to organize his time and have clear goals.

You can also model keeping your own journal, making a point of writing a few notes at the end of the day every day or creating your own daily agenda.

The most important point is that your teen’s journal, diary, agendas, and decision sheets are private. They are for his eyes only, not yours. Do not even think about peeking, no matter how good a reason you might have.

Keeping a journal or diary can help your teen sort out his thinking and give a shape to the summer. Now is a good time to give that a try.

© 2012, Patricia Nan Anderson. All rights reserved.