John Cowan - Emotional Journal

Publish Date
Thursday, 16 November 2017, 11:33AM
Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

By John Cowan

I recently came across an old diary of mine from decades ago. I am not an especially angry person but, wow! … in one entry I really let rip about some people who had treated me badly. I had even drawn a picture of the event.  And that was that. In the pages that followed,  there was nothing more about it. No plots to blow up their house or poison their cats… I was over it.  I do recall the event, and I also recall, decades later, how cathartic and helpful it was to write out my feelings.

Some children  – and probably a lot of adults, too  – need a way to unload their emotions. If your child is  upset or angry, and is unable to talk about it,  ask her to write her feelings down on paper or in a journal. They can express themselves through words or drawings.  If they chose to share it (and don’t automatically assume they will), tell them they can post what they’ve written like a letter by popping it under your pillow, and that you will write back.  You can see what is going on  – or their perspective on it, anyway – and you can post back your expression of love and support.

Here’s the thing – don’t be surprised if they don’t ‘post the letter’ to you: like I discovered in my diary, the mere act of writing it all out might be all the processing they need to do.  Could they text to you instead of writing? I suppose so, but something romantic in me still likes the idea of the emotion flowing onto paper and being captured there. And you never know – they may read it again in forty years’ time and smile like I did.  

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About John

John has been with The Parenting Place ( for seventeen years as their senior writer and presenter.  He had various roles working with youth and families prior to that but actually started his working life as a scientist in neurophysiology at Auckland Hospital.  As well as writing and speaking, John is frequently on radio and television.

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