Children can worry about the most unexpected things! The worry bag is a way of helping them express and externalise these disturbing thoughts so that they can be better understood and put into proportion. Inside the bag place a selection of monsters. You might want to introduce the idea of ‘everyone worrying at sometimes’ and the ‘Bag of Worries’ that can be taken out from time to time and explored to help you feel better; “sometimes I forget what’s in here, but I like to take them out occasionally and when I’m done I close the bag back up tightly.”
Ask if they want to have a look, ask if they ever worry, and as they take each one out see if they want to give any of them a funny name/personality/ explanation of the worry. They may want to draw or make ones of their own. You can introduce the idea of worries growing or shrinking in order to get a gauge on the size of the problem- explore what makes the worries bigger/smaller? Keying into children’s magical thinking can help-try asking if they know the facts about Worry Monsters…
“…when a Worry sneaks up in the dark of night,
the Worry can give you an aweful fright-
but if you see a Worry in the light of day,
you just have to laugh, and it runs away!”
Most children will say that they’ve heard this about Worry Monsters, and you can explore different ways to take the power and fear out of their worries. This could include imagining the worry dressed in ridiculous clothes, doing silly things etc. so that it’s easy to laugh at them.
NB* Stories such as the ‘Harry Potter’ character of the ‘Boggatt’ can be a useful tool to use, especially if children are already familiar with these stories. The Boggatt is a shapeshifter that likes to live in dark places and takes on the form of the thing that you’re most scared of. The only way to be rid of it is by using a ‘Ridikulus! Spell. Imagine it in a ridiculous situation (dressed in Granny’s false teeth and hat?!?), cast the spell and laugh at it. Guaranteed to make it disappear!
Other stories that can help include ‘The Worry Ball’ (see over) The Story of The Worry Ball Once upon a time a little girl was out playing when they saw a Worry Ball bouncing down the street. As she looked it bounced right up close, bounced onto her foot and disappeared! The Worry ball had gone right through her shoe and into her foot and she could feel it bouncing around inside the foot and making it feel very odd indeed. The girl tried to shake it out and started to kick the foot around. She felt better when they kicked things, but then the foot hurt from the kicking which was not very nice. Then the ball started to move up her leg, getting bigger as it went. It made her feel like stomping around in a really grumpy way. The girl stomped off home, and the stomping did seem to help until her legs got tired of all the grumpiness and very quickly so did all her family too!
The Worry Ball was soon on the move again inside, and it felt like it was getting bigger all the time. Next it went into her chest and made her heart feel all thumpy. This scared the girl a bit, and she was just thinking about whether to cry when it moved again, into the arm this time. The Worry Ball made her arm feel like hitting something, she really, really wanted to hit something, but then she remembered what happened to her leg when she let herself just kick out and how much it hurt afterwards, and decided not to bother. She needed to do something though, so she thought and thought and had a fantastic idea. The girl picked up a crayon and suddenly the hand started to draw. A strange hissing noise was heard as some of the Worry started to come out of her hand and into the drawing. Wow! Thought the girl, that feels better, but no sooner had she thought that thought when the Worry Ball was on the move again, this time across and into the other hand. The idea to hit something came back but instead of hurting herself the girl picked up a drumstick and hit the toy drum. There was that hissing noise again…as some more of the worry came out of the ball in the music that was being played. It felt good and it didn’t sound that bad either!
As the girl found better ways to let the worry out the Worry Ball got smaller. The now small ball moved out of the girls arm and bounced around in her head. It started to make her feel a bit head-achey and sick. She rushed into another room in a panic trying to think of what to do next, and then she thought of it; maybe her best idea yet- she opened their mouth and spoke. Words tumbled over each other to get out. At first it just sounded like the strange hissing noise but bigger. She wondered what others would think, but soon it became proper words all about the worries that she had been feeling. It felt sooooo good to just let them come out of her mouth and as she did the Worry Ball got smaller and smaller!
As the girl paused to take a breath she noticed a tickle in her throat and coughed. A tiny, tiny little bubble escaped from her mouth and went floating off into the blue sky. That was all that was left of the Worry Ball. With no worries left inside, it didn’t need to live inside the little girl any more, and if she ever saw a Worry Ball again bouncing around, looking for a home, she knew exactly what to do. Oh, and now we’ve heard this story, we know what to do too!