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How Worry Eaters Help Children Manage Fears

Plush character holds worries and cuddles

Everyone Worries

We are all afraid of something. So we worry. Children and adults alike. And that’s not altogether bad. In fact, our fears help keep us safe and motivate us to do whatever we can to avoid what we fear could happen.

Whether we’re 16 or 60, taking the written test to get or renew a driver’s license is likely to make us anxious. We fret over the possibility we’ll fail. That fear motivates us to study the manual until we feel prepared. No guarantee we’ll pass, but we’re more likely to answer the questions correctly and to feel less apprehensive.

Real Versus Imaginary

Children worry too. Sometimes their fears spring from their active imaginations.  Take monsters under the bed. These fearsome creatures may be make-believe, but to the young child not yet clear about the difference between fantasy and reality, the fear is real.

Magical thinkers who view the world from a self-centered perspective, children often believe themselves responsible for events. I recall our then three year old son thinking his grandparents had bought a new car because he’d thrown up in the old one. He worried they were angry with him. In his mind, he’d ruined their car. That months had passed between these unrelated events never occurred to him.

Tools for Managing Worries

Gerd Hahn knows the feeling of losing sleep from worry overload. A creative man, he used his angst and talent to create a solution – Worry Eaters. Engaging, soft, huggable characters, their manta is “Let me carry your worries so you don’t have to.”

Their invitation is simple.

1. Write down or draw your fears and worries.

2. Feed them to me – I’ll hold them for you.

3. We’ll get through this together.

That’s a powerful message. Worry Eaters help children put a name on their worries and express their feelings. As adults we sometimes can’t put a finger on the cause of our distress. Likewise children sometimes cannot find words to explain theirs.

A trusted, caring adult, can help a child figure out and assign a name to what’s bothering him. Through the process of sharing his feelings, the child gains emotional support. By feeding his worries to a Worry Eater, the child lightens his load, creating space between himself and his worries.

A favorite Worry Eater also becomes a confidant. Whenever a child needs an ear, Worry Eater listens. Soft and huggable, Worry Eater comforts and consoles.

Not Just for Little Kids

Worry Eaters help bigger kids too. School age children face daily challenges as they grow and develop. Managing worries in a healthy way is a must. Worry Eaters, like a journal, serve to ease anxiety by encouraging kids to identify and cope with what’s bothering them. The process of naming the worry and feeding it to a Worry Eater symbolically creates space for problem-solving.

Customers have purchased Worry Eaters for their young adult children too. I recall one buying two to send daughters in law school. She figured – and you know she’s right on – those young women had plenty of worries in need of holding.

Worry Eaters in Therapeutic Situations

I credit my daughter-in-law with this idea. Having individual Worry Eaters for every little kid client is expensive. What she suggests is creating a file box with an envelope for each client. Between sessions transfer the worries to these envelopes for safe keeping and quick retrieval.

Something for Everyone

Worry Eaters help children (and their adults) express and cope with their worries in a healthy way. With two sizes and an array of delightful characters-five available both large and small-you’re sure to find a Worry Eater perfect for every worrier in your life.

 PlayopolisToys – for the diverse needs of the citizens of play

 

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Worry Eaters Relieve Anxiety

Plush character that eats your worries

Acknowledging Feelings

When life throws a curve ball, ignoring our feelings makes matters worse. Successful coping requires us to acknowledge our feelings. Otherwise we’ll likely “come undone.” Suppressed emotions have a way of escaping, often at inopportune times and in inappropriate ways. Self awareness is the first step. Sharing how we feel with people we trust opens channels of support and helps us find ways to ease our distress.

Managing Feelings

What we do with our feelings speaks volumes about our ability to manage our emotions rather than allowing our emotions to control us. Some adults keep journals, appreciating how writing clarifies and comforts or express themselves through art. Others turn to prayer, meditation, or physical activity.

Worry Eaters Help Kids Cope

Truth is, we all worry – adults and kids alike. Sometimes our worries are small; other times overwhelming. The causes differ, but we all know the feeling. Managing anxiety requires identifying its cause and finding healthy ways to cope. Worry Eaters invite kids to express their feelings and help them develop healthy coping skills. With self confidence and optimism, keeping calm and carrying on in the face of adversity is easier.

Worry Eaters help children do just that. Kids write out or draw what’s bugging them, zip their cares in a Worry Eaters mouth, and let their favorite character hold on to them. The message is you don’t need to carry your worries all by yourself.

Parents’ Guide to Worry Eaters

Certified Child Life Specialist Morgan Livingstone has written a Parents’ Guide to Worry Eaters that outlines common childhood worries by developmental stages, from toddlers to preteens. She stresses the value of Worry Eaters as a tool to help kids “to identify worries, clarify misunderstandings or misconceptions, resolve conflicts and build self esteem.”

Worry Eaters Appeal to Everyone

There’s a Worry Eater for every personality and situation. Consider Flint. He has horns, but to a kid who wears an eye patch, Flint is an appealing companion. Whether short and wide or tall and narrow, all characters are soft and cuddly, eager to take care of our worries so we don’t have to.

Available in two sizes, the large invites hugging as well as carrying worries. The small make ideal take-alongs. That’s why some children tuck a Worry Eater in their back pack.  When they know their Worry Eater is nearby, they say worry less .

Worry Eaters appeal to adults as well as kids. Many parents buy Worry Eaters for kids in college and beyond, saying these young adults need reminders to worry less. We all do.

PlayopolisToys – for the diverse needs of the citizens of play