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Worry Dolls

Suggested Group(s): Young/Middle

Purpose: To allow group member to discuss their worrries and give them an outlet for their worries. To think about comfort for their worries and a way to manage them

Task/need: Approaching the pain of the loss (feelings)

Activity Setup Ideas:

  • Share some of the background information listed below with the children.
  • Then ask, "Have you ever worried about something?"
  • "How does that feel?"
  • "What did you do with your worry? Did you keep it inside or share it with someone?"
  • "I wonder if you might have worries since your family member died?"


  • Craft clothspin
  • Fabric scraps
  • Markers
  • Yarn
  • Scissors

Description: Give each child a clothespin and invite each one to create his/her own worry doll. Allow group members to select their own 'hair,' 'clothes' and facial expressions for the doll. Use the activity to encourage discussion about the worries that people have and different ways of dealing with worries other than just keeping them inside.

Activity Wrap Up Ideas:

  • Allow members to share their work
  • Thank the group members for their hard work


It may be helpful to start the week before with one of the stories on fears and worry listed below. Discuss general fear and worries, as well as those related to having experienced a death.

You may want to check in with the group at the next meeting to see if anybody used the worry dolls or some other means of managing their worries.

Relevant Stories:

  • Some Things Are Scary by Florence Parry Heide
  • If I Were in Charge of the World and other worries by Judith Viorst
  • The Way I Feel by Janan Cain
  • My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss
  • The Night the Scary Beasties Popped out of My Head by Daniel and David Kamish

Background information: Guatemalan worry dolls date back to Mayan traditions and are similar to many amulets around the world, in that they are thought to soothe your fears and anxieties. Unlike most amulets, worry dolls were often made specifically for children, and in Guatemala they may still be used for this purpose. These little wooden dolls, an inch (2.54 cm) or less in length, usually come in a box or bag in sets of six.

The Guatemalan tradition is to use one of six worry dolls each night. The child (or the adult) tells a worry to the doll and then puts it under her pillow for the night. If a family is large and children all have worries, they may share a bag of worry dolls so each child has his or her own. Alternately each child has their own bag of worry dolls and for six nights in row they tell a worry to one of the dolls before slipping it under their pillow.

Background Information Source: