Teaching our kids to manage their fears
With anxiety and depression on the rise, I think a lot about how I can best prepare my daughter for the stresses she will face in her everyday life. The Worry Box is a fantastic teaching tool for helping children recognize that their worries and fears can be manageable!
One of the greatest privileges and challenges we have as parents is to walk through emotional learning with our children. From a very young age, children learn to mirror the emotions on the faces of those around them. They are very good at picking up social cues and can often tell by the tone of your voice if you are happy, sad, nervous, angry, etc.
Teaching healthy coping mechanisms now will hopefully save her much pain later, which is why we talk through emotions so often.
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This encouraging tale begins with Murray sharing with his sister, Molly, that he is scared to play at the waterfall. This is a new experience for Murray, and he isn’t sure how to cope with the emotions of excitement and fear.
Molly’s response is perfect – explaining to Murray that being frightened is normal and Ok. Acceptance and normalizing fear is such a vital part of the emotional learning process!
But she doesn’t stop there! Instead of just recognizing his fears, Molly teaches Murray a concrete way to deal with his worries – by creating a Worry Box.
As the story progresses, Murray is able to write down his fears and put them in his Worry Box. There, they are safe, but won’t keep him from enjoying his time with friends.
The Worry Box is such a fantastic book because it demonstrates a healthy skill that Murray builds and is even able to share with a friend who is also experiencing fear and anxiety.
So often we let anxiety consume us to the point that we can’t even enjoy the good parts of life. Stress and anxiety are always going to be a part of our existence. Even the biggest blessings in life – moving to a new home, going to a new school – bring with them stress. I think what makes the Worry Box such a fantastic book is that the author illustrates that we all worry, but we don’t all have to be helpless against those fears.
Activity – create your own Worry Box!
After reading The Worry Box, we decided to create one of our own! This is a quick and simple activity that will open the door for conversations with your child about fears, anxiety, and coping mechanisms.
The best part about this craft is you can use whatever supplies you have lying around, no need to make a trip to the store!
DIY Worry Box
- Box – we used a tissue box, but you can use any small box
- construction paper
- Decorations for the box – we used beads and pom-poms since that is what we had in the art cart. You could also use tissue paper, stickers, markers, googly eyes…whatever you like!
- Notecards (optional)
What I love about this worry box is your child can totally make it their own. Just as our worries and fears are unique to us, so is the box that they store them in.
Cover your box in construction paper. As you can see, ours was far from perfect, but the point is to have fun and let your kiddo do as much of the project as possible! After all, it is their worry box!
Once your box is covered, it’s time to decorate! We used trusty Elmer’s glue to attach pony beads and pom-poms. I recommend if you are gluing to let each side dry before moving on to the next. The beads on the front and sides slid a little due to gravity.
Done decorating? It’s time to use the box! Notecards are the perfect size for storing in the box. We didn’t have any, so I cut some construction paper instead.
My daughter and I talked about some things she is worried about and I helped her write them down.
Depending on your child’s age, this is a great time to talk about how fear or worry may feel like different things (anger, sadness, frustration) and name those emotions.
Since my daughter is not quite 4, we talked instead about what being scared may look or feel like and situations where she has been scared and worried.
Are you looking for opportunities to discuss feelings with your child? Reading books is a great way to open the door to tough conversations and I simply love the encouraging and gentle way this book introduces the topic of anxiety.
We talk about feelings all the time in our household, and since my daughter is now in the prime stage for learning social/emotional development, I am always looking for ways to build healthy coping skills.
Creating that foundation at a young age is sure to help kids better adjust to new situations and concerns in their life.
The Worry Box is a fabulous book that my daughter and I both enjoyed and is a wonderful resource for building a foundation of healthy coping skills.
I almost immediately added this one to our collection, as the message it teaches is so vital to healthy child development. Check it out for yourself and let me know your thoughts in the comments!