Since the time that he could barely talk and walk, my son enjoyed a LOVE/HATE relationship with a neighborhood child (we’ll call him "Max"). My son loved to go and play with Max whenever he had the opportunity. But Max was, to put it bluntly, a bully. Though he was, at heart, a good kid, he’d often tease my son by calling him “baby” and other names. They'd argue and sometimes things would even get physical (although it was always an "accident"). My son would often run home crying. Nonetheless, he'd be just as eager to go back there the next day. As a mom, I didn’t know what to do. Of course, if I prohibited him from going to play with Max he’d be just as angry.
Through a community workshop I learned a great practice for increasing self-knowledge and writing more effective affirmations. It involves recording very specific instances of positive behavior. I used the technique for myself initially and had great results letting go of old, unhelpful labels about myself. Then I thought, wouldn't it be great to have had this record from a very early age? That's when I started using the practice with my son. We kept a journal to record this work.
One day, when my son was about 4 or 5, he came home crying after Max called him a baby yet again. I was frustrated. “Why do you keep going over there!” I wanted to scream. Instead, as patiently as I could, I asked him, “Well are you a baby?”
“No!” he insists.
“Well what are you?”
“I'm a big boy!"
"Ok, well what else are you besides a 'big boy'"
Shrugging his shoulders, "I don’t know.”
In a flash, it came to me! “Well, go get your journal. Let’s read about who you are.”
He got out his journal and we sat down and began to read some of the entries. Some entries related back to occurrences when he was just 2 years old (I did the writing back then). Instantly, his demeanor changed. His anger dissolved. We both chuckled as we read through these endearing snapshots from his life. We read for less than 5 minutes but it was enough. He was no longer angry at Max and he chose to play happily at home for the rest of the afternoon. Inside, I was ecstatic. Finally, I was no longer helpless. Now I had a go-to-tool to use whenever the inevitable conflict with Max arose.
We have continued to journal in this way and to read from the journal periodically. These days, when my son comes to me upset that someone said this or that, all I have to say is, “Go get your journal.” He generally doesn’t even let me finish my sentence. “Ok, ok, mom. That’s ok. I know who I am.” As an added benefit, this practice has also helped my son to see good in others even when those others do not always behave in a positive manner.
Because of how helpful this tool has been for me and my family, I decided to create the app to share it with others.
How it works
The app has an easy to use interface that helps children write down their positive behavior. The child can take a picture as additional evidence of the positive behavior (artwork, report cards, awards). The entries are compiled in a timeline fashion to be reviewed by the child from time to time.
To motivate the child to make the journal entries, the child is rewarded with 5 "Kichange" for each journal entry. "Kichange" is currency for kids that I created as part of a new incentive system. Parents decide how the Kichange can be used. Rewards can be things like screen time, playdates or treats...that is, whatever has "currency" for the kids .
The Kichange journal app provides kids the language and a tool to be masters of their own personal currency and cultivators of their own inner peace. With these skills and knowledge, kids are armed with a powerful immunizer against life's inevitable challenges whether it be bullying, an over-critical parent or the child's own doubts. By dissolving anger and fear, the opportunity for happiness is thereby expanded.
What's next for Kichange Journal App
Kichange is in the beta testing phase and is expected to be available for Iphone/Ipad users in early 2015.
Later versions of the app will allow the users to order a hard copy of the journal entries and associated photos as a keepsake.