In middle school and high school, writing is important for most subjects. However, creative writing based on the teen’s own thoughts, beliefs, ideas, and imaginings are often underemphasized. This is a time when teens are developing their identity and gathering their thoughts, hopes, and dreams in writing are especially important. Writing helps this stage of development immensely.
When your teen seems to be spacing out at home or in the classroom he or she is probably daydreaming about themselves present and future. They are not wasting time. How wonderful it would be if they could express those thoughts in the written word.
Teens are very capable of writing stories of characters that interest them and often express their fantasies of the way life could be. Reading other’s fiction is of course invaluable, but writing their very own stories is inspiring.
When your teen is out of sorts, you might suggest they write their own stories that they keep privately or share with you. These stories will often express their beliefs, values, opinions, and ideas about themselves in the world without actually writing about themselves directly. Their characters express aspects of themselves.
Teens are challenged to search google for all kinds of information. How helpful it would be for them to write not for an assignment, but just to express their own interests. They are natural researchers on the internet learning all kind of facts and ideas that they come to incorporate in their growing world of knowledge.
Encourage them to write essays on subjects that they find challenging. Ask them questions so they can embellish their ideas rather than give them more information of your own. Let the work be theirs. They are the authors.
This kind of writing helps build their self-image and strengthens self-confidence at a time when they are building their identity.
Writing Helps Teenagers Think in Complex Ways
When a child is given a pleasurable task of writing down their ideas knowing that you are interested in their thoughts, they are inspired to organize their thinking.
Simply, putting ideas in paragraphs, for example, teaches kids to arrange, classify and categorize their ideas. These are wonderful skills to develop and expand on. One paragraph leads to the next and before you know it the adolescent has developed full blown ideas about a subject. They are learning to think in complex ways.
Parents can help simply by commenting on their teen’s ideas rather than giving more details originating in the adult’s mind. When a child begins to realize he or she has beliefs and opinions of their own that are worthwhile it builds a special kind of self-confidence that is rarely found in a typical school curriculum.
Take Good Care of Preserving Your Child’s Written Work
It’s easy today to print and bind your teen’s work, so they see its significance. They can have a book shelf of their own writing to peruse as they grow older and older. They begin to realize you respect their writing talents and this builds a positive self-image as a young author.
You can encourage them to also enter writing contests where their achievements are received by a broader audience. Whether they win the contest isn’t as important as realizing their works are being read by other authors around the world.
Laurie Hollman, Ph.D., is a psychoanalyst and author of Unlocking Parental Intelligence: Finding Meaning in Your Child’s Behavior found on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Familius. She writes extensively on a wide range of topics found on her website: http://lauriehollmanphd.com.
Originally published at medium.com