Worry is something that every human on the planet has experienced at some point in their lives. Most individuals can manage this emotion effectively, but for many of us, the constant worry is detrimental to our life.
When this constant worry is seen in young children, parents often find themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place with not knowing what they can do to help their child. This is where outpatient therapy can come into play!
The therapists help worrisome children to express their feelings and emotions. For many therapists, they do this through play and art therapy. Regular ‘talk therapy’ can be difficult for children, especially the younger ones, so allowing children to express themselves through play and art is more natural for them. Parents can even utilize some of these techniques and activities to help their children at home.
For parents is sitting with their child and playing with them. Let the child lead the play and ask them what they want to do. Then as you two play, ask them what the toy should say or do? What you are allowing during this play is for the child to have some control and have a feeling that you are listening to them. A good art therapy activity for parents is to make “worry dolls” with your child.
Worry dolls are pocket size or smaller dolls that a child can tell it’s worries to.
Originated in Guatemala and comes from a Mayan legend about a princess named
Lxmucane, who was gifted, by the sun god, the ability to solve any problem a human could
worry about. The dolls are used to represent this princess. The tradition goes that a child tells its
worry doll various worries and then places the doll under their pillow while they sleep. In the
morning the doll has gifted the child the wisdom and knowledge to help them eliminate the
worry. This tradition is still strong in Guatemalan culture and the small one-inch dolls are a
common find in markets there. Worry dolls can be made of anything but they need to be small for convenient carrying.
An easy way to make worry dolls is to wrap yarn or string around a round top clothespin to
represent the clothes of the doll. Then a face can be drawn onto the doll as well as any other
important accessories. This is a fun activity to do with your child and can help them to learn to
open up about their feelings especially to others.
Worry can be difficult for children to navigate but with the right tools and parental
support, they can learn to walk with their worries and not let it stop them from living.
If you are seeking out medication management services or mental health interventions, meet with one of our PMHNPs or clinicians in either the St. Charles or Algonquin offices at 847-440-2281.
HOW DOES PLAY THERAPY REDUCE WORRY IN CHILDREN?
Samantha Foehringer, LCPC
The Center for Collaborative Counseling and Psychiatry
© photo by Samantha Foehringer (Play therapy office)