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Michelle Garcia Winner’s Social Thinking is a great way to talk with kids about social interactions and teach them expected ways to react to situations. I’ve discussed The Unthinkables Rock Brain and Glass Man before and given some resources you can use to talk with kids about how to defeat them.
Worry wall is another Unthinkable that kids (and adults!) have a hard time managing. Here’s a quick lesson and some resources you can use when you are talking about Worry Wall with kids.
Worry Wall Lesson for an Individual or Group
- Green Construction Paper
- Red Construction Paper
Take red and green construction paper and cut it into brick sized pieces. Glue a green piece to a red piece. Tape it on a flat wall or surface in a brick pattern with all the red surfaces facing out.
Start by talking about Worry Wall and how he takes over kids brains and makes them worry too much. Generate some ideas of what kids might worry about. It can be worries they themselves really have or worries they think kids may have. They could have worries about home or school, family or other kids.
For example, a kid at the end of the school year may be worried about who their teacher will be next year. A kid might worry about who they will sit with at lunch, or if a friend will be in their classroom. When they mention a worry, write it on one brick. Keep going until all the bricks are filled.
Now it’s time to defeat Worry Wall! Pick up each worry and generate ideas as a group for defeating worry wall. Write the strategies you’ve come up with on the green side and place it on the wall away from the red bricks, visually taking the “wall” apart. Keep going until all the bricks are flipped to the green side with positive strategies for defeating worries.
Resources to Help Defeat Worry Wall
Mr. Worry - Based on the Little Men book, Mr Worry worries about everything. Then he meets a wizard who tells him to write down his worries and he stops worrying! Unfortunately his worries come back. It’s a great teachable moment to talk with kids about how defeating worries is not a one time thing. Chances are, you will get more worries over time and you’ll need to continue to work on defeating those worries. You just need to develop strategies to defeat them
Wemberley Worried - This is such a cute video based on the Wemberley Worried book. It would be helpful for younger kids as they are starting school and have some worries about it.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation from Inner Health Studios - I’ve used this progressive muscle relaxation with kids during therapy before, and they enjoy it. It’s a great way to calm the body and reduce anxiety.
www.stressfreekids.com - Lori Lite created a whole system for helping kids manage anxiety. I love her book The Angry Octopus - which is a book that walks kids through a Progressive Muscle Relaxation exercise.
Relaxation Downloads from Dartmouth - a whole set of relaxation, stress relief, progressive muscle relaxation and even classical music to help calm anxiety and stress.
What to do When You’re Scared and Worried - A great resource for kids, families and counselors. The beginning of the book focuses on smaller worries, and then there are chapters dedicated to Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Panic Attacks, Separation Anxiety and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. It’s written for kids, but it’s good to work through the book with an adult.
Action Plan for Counselors:
Use the Worry Wall Lesson in a social group or lunch group for the kids that tend to worry or feel more anxious. If kids need a little bit more 1:1 attention, take a few minutes and meet with them separately to talk about their worries.
Action Plan for Parents:
Ask simply “Is there anything that you worry about?” and see what they say. Ask if they want help trying to figure out ways to defeat their worries. If they do, work together and think about some ways they can manage their worries.
What are your favorite resources to help kids with worry?