How Worry Dolls Help Kids Deal With Anxiety and Stress
With so much going on in the world at the moment it’s no surprise children would be worrying more than usual and that more children are suffering the effects of anxiety and stress. Worry dolls could be one way to help children deal with their worries and process the big feelings and emotions they are experiencing.
What Are Worry Dolls?
Worry Dolls are small hand crafted dolls that originate from Guatemala where they come from an ancient Mayan tradition. The story goes that the Mayans came up with a clever way to help alleviate their children's worries and ensure they were able to get a good night's sleep.
Little dolls like worry dolls were given to children that represented the princess Lxmucane, a princess who had been granted the gift of wisdom by the Sun God and had the power to solve any problem that a person could have. Worry dolls representing the princess would have her powers, and so children would tell the dolls their worries at night, put the worry doll under their pillow as they slept, and by morning they would have the wisdom they needed to deal with their problem.
How Can Worry Dolls Help Children Today?
The aim of worry dolls is to help children let go of their worries before they sleep by saying them out loud to a trustworthy listener. Many child psychologists and therapists today use dolls like worry dolls as a way to help children articulate their worries and often as a go between adult and child.
Studies have shown that the simple act of saying fears out loud can hugely reduce the fear response and reduce the symptoms of anxiety. By giving names to emotions we are better able to feel them and to let them go. And studies have shown that this is a more effective method than distraction and reappraisal.
As well as the fact that naming our fears can help make them less scary there is also the fact that saying our problems out loud can be an effective way of processing them and solving them. As adults we know that sometimes just the act of telling a friend an issue can be enough for us to figure out what we need to do next regardless of whether they have any useful advice or not. It’s the same for children. By telling a worry doll what they are anxious about they are able to process the situation and emotions far better than they would be if they were to keep it inside.
Speaking the words aloud engages more of the brain so it’s better than just thinking about a problem. And speaking to a listener that will not interrupt or interject can actually be more powerful than talking a problem over with a friend as there is less pressure. Giving your child a worry doll to talk to can also help them practise articulating their worries which may mean they are better able to talk to you about them in the morning.
Next Up: How to Incorporate Worry Dolls Into Your Routine