Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Worry Dolls

Yesterday’s post explained Corban’s recent scare and the curious resultant behavior of circling me. In order to allay his anxiety, soothe his fear, and help him re-find his center of gravity—which, as you can imagine, is more pronounced at bedtime—I did two things. Regarding the first, thank you, Reya, for the wonderful suggestion (see her comment on the “Running in Circles” post). Second, I got him a set of Worry Dolls, which we’re carefully calling Worry People in front of our perceptive and discerning seven-year-old boy.

I don’t remember when I first heard or came into contact with Worry Dolls, or Trouble Dolls, but the whole concept delights me. Originally from Guatemala, they’re made for children and come in boxes or bags of six. According to folklore, a child can express his worries to a doll and place it under his pillow before going to sleep at night. The doll is thought to worry in the child’s place, thereby permitting him to sleep peacefully. The child is given one worry doll each night and instructed to tell one trouble or fear to the doll. The next morning when the child wakes up, the worry doll is gone from the bed (I’ve got to remember to do this part!), taking that worry with it. To introduce Corban to this whole concept, I read him Trouble Dolls, a wonderful book for children by Jimmy Buffett.

We know, of course, that there’s no magical element involved here, and that this is comparable to many of the myths we have for kids. I believe intention, faith and belief play an important role in a child’s ability to deal with anxiety. And it seems, from a psychological standpoint, using Worry Dolls is quite sound; in point of fact, some hospitals use them with children to relieve anxiety. I thought this would be a good-sense way to help Corban voice his worries and fears and to promote better sleep. We’re on the second night here; two dolls down, four to go. Pleasant dreams, Corban.

18 comments:

Poetikat said...

Great idea! I could use a set myself, only I don't think my husband would remember to take the doll away - either that, or the cats would carry them off...maybe that could work.

I hope it's working our for your little guy.

Kat

larkspur said...

You are such a thoughtful mother. I have a set of these dolls. I received these from a world traveller, but never knew what they really were, other than they are beautiful, handmade, folk art. I think I will pull them from the drawer beside my bed and use them!
Thx

willow said...

What a charming idea. They are fabulous! I need a set for myself, not only to put under my pillow, but because they are so beautiful.
You are ingenious!

Bee said...

Living near Mexico, we often had worry dolls when we were children . . . but we just "had" them. I didn't realize that there was a "method" to their magic. It is a clever idea, and one that I would like to send to several grown-ups I know.

Do you think that there is a lot more anxiety in the atmosphere these days? Yesterday, in Waterstone's bookstore, they had a display of books that dealt with various fears. I don't think I've ever noticed that before.

Carol said...

How wonderful.....I wish these had been around during my child rearing
days. Will keep them in mind for the Grans though!

Peggy said...

OMG, Kat! You are so funny! I hadn't even thought of our cats being interested in these little dolls, but I'll bet you're right. Happily, our two night-prowling felines don't spend much time on Corban's bed. He moves too fast for them. I hope they don't get wind of the "playthings" lurking under his pillow!

Peggy said...

Larkspur and Bee, I wasn't aware of the tradition and lore behind these little dolls either. It wasn't until I found the Trouble Doll book that I realized they actually had a purpose other than great folk art!

Peggy said...

Bee, yes, I think anxiety and stress are at an all-time high today. We live in critical times that can be very hard to deal with. And, sadly, I think most people today lack tools to deal with them.

Carol, I feel the same way. I wish these dolls had been around when I was young. They are so inexpensive to buy; you can get them for almost nothing. I think I'll look for some of those one-piece knobby clothespins so Corban and I can make some bigger ones (there's an idea for you, Kat, so the felines don't pilfer them!)

Poetikat said...

Oh, I like the clothespin idea very much. I think the tiny worry dolls might be a dangerously small and cats could get them down their throats.
The clothespins may be more tempting for play, however and they'll be a whole lot noisier under the bed in the middle of the night!
(I've always loved that word, "pilfer".

Kat

Meri Arnett-Kremian said...

That brings back a memory of my older son, who developed a fear of monsters in the dark. I found a magic wand at a craft fair and presented it to him with much ceremony. Every night until the monsters left for good, we walked around the room, waving the wand under the bed and in the closets, saying "Monsters begone." It worked! He chased them away. And now he's the protector of another little boy.

Joanne said...

What a great concept, I've never seen these before. It seems like something you can wrap up and put away when this incident passes, and some day when your son has children of his own, they'd make a nice gift for him at that time. I was wondering too where you found these dolls, I have a small doll collection and I'd like to keep my eyes open for these now.

Poetikat said...

For anyone interested in purchasing "Worry Dolls" and supporting a good cause for the impoverished in our world at the same time, here's a link to a great site with many resources and ways to contribute:

http://shop.thehungersite.com/store/item.do;jsessionid=B605330492118E633EB30AA1D7344851.store-c?itemId=33968&siteId=220&sourceId=9&sourceClass=Category&index=8

I have the Hunger Site as my home page and click daily to provide food.

Kat

Carol said...

Peggy.......stop by the Porch,
you have an award waiting for this lovely post!

Raph G. Neckmann said...

What a wonderful idea!

I agree with Bee, there is a lot of anxiety around. Is there more than there used to be, or is it that we communicate about it more, resulting in more awareness, and the useful shelves of books?

Peggy said...

Meri, what a wonderful story. Thank you so much for sharing it!

Joanne, you can order the dolls online. Just Google "Trouble Dolls." Or, you can check out the link Poetikat was kind enough to furnish. Thanks, Kat!

Peggy said...

Carol, what a dear you are! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Raph, there can be no denying that we're bombarded from all directions with stress-producing information, more so every day it seems. At the same time, it seems to me that people are becoming increasingly less able to handle it in their lives. I've seen such a quiet desperation in so many of the people I come into contact with in my volunteer work. Have you noticed that, too?

It's Just Me said...

I used to have worry dolls. I would buy them every year at our State Fair. I even had a barrette with them on. Oh, I have forgotten about them! I have a 9 and 8 yr old who would benefit from a set!

Peggy said...

It's Just Me, I remember buying my daughter a barrette with worry dolls on it! I'll bet your nine- and eight-year-olds will love them. :-)