Given everything *gestures around wildly with both arms*, why wouldn’t children be worrying about things?
We all are.
And several of my friends who are parents are increasingly concerned about how to help their children deal with new – and existing – worries.
These 2 amazing books have a main character that’s consumed by worry. They create a one-removed, safe place to discuss any worries and how to handle them.
1. ‘The Huge Bag of Worries’ written by Virginia Ironside, illustrated by Frank Rodgers.
Jenny is our thoughtful hero. When we first meet her, she’s sitting in her bedroom chatting to her dog (Loftus):
“Jenny has always been happy. She had a lovely mum and dad, a great brother (well, most of the time…), she had a best friend at school and she liked her teacher. And then, of course, there was Loftus.”
“But recently she had been getting gloomier and gloomier. It wasn’t just one thing. It was everything.”
She eventually fills a huge bag with her multicoloured monster worries. And its not until a kind neighbour intervenes that she discovers how to deal with them all.
Making a bag of worries
Making individual ‘bags of worry’ is a useful way to communicate issues that might be difficult to vocalise. Drawing each worry makes it more tangible and sometimes easier to describe than a raw thought of feeling.
I did this several times with classes of children and they always took their worry bags home. I was surprised by how many parents said they’d no idea their child was worrying about a particular issue (like gaining weight) and they were grateful for the opportunity to talk about it.
2. ‘Silly Billy’ written and illustrated by Anthony Browne
Here we have lovely Billy, who cannot sleep for worrying about all manner of things. He, with much reluctance, eventually tells his grandmother how he’s feeling, and she gives him some worry dolls that helped her with the same problem.
The dolls don’t magically take away Billy’s worrying, in fact he eventually worries about the worry dolls! But he does learn to turn his worry outwards and show it as caring to the dolls and then his friends.
Making worry dolls
Making worry dolls is an obvious spin-off from reading this wonderful book. There are loads of online videos using various techniques and resources. Something you can do together.
Or, giving ‘Silly Billy’ and some worry dolls together as a gift for a worried child (or adult!) is a lovely way to say that you understand.
I know these books have been around for a while now – it should make them easy to find in libraries and second hand shops. And there are loads of others with similar messages. I just love these two and, due to the genius of their creators, find that children always actively engaged with their themes.
If you are concerned about a worried little person in your life, they are highly recommended as a small safety valve of understanding.