Anxiety is a tough concept for kiddos to grasp. In child therapy, I have found it very difficult for kids to admit that they have worries or that they are anxious, even if it is obvious to us as adults that they have trouble controlling their worries.
That being said, many kids know what bullies are and can conceptualize what a bully is. Having kids think of their worry as a bully makes it much easier for them to understand and take control of their worry. This is why the worry bully intervention is therapy gold!
Here’s what you need for the intervention:
-Coloring utensils, such as markers, crayons, or colored pencils
First, explain to your client what a worry bully. Ask if they know what a bully is in general. Make the connection between worry bullies and bullies in the real world. I like to relate worry bullies to the “angel and devil on your shoulder,” stating that the worry bully sits on your shoulder and whispers your worries into your ear, making you think about them more and more.
Then, have the child draw their worry bully. I drew an example of a worry bully below, imagining my own worry bully is like a little monster. That being said, kids are incredibly creative and may not think of their worry bully as a monster! I’ve had some children imagine their worry bully as a buff human, bird or another animal sitting on their shoulder.
The next part of the activity is to help the child in identifying what their worry bully tells them or whispers into their ear. Have them write down what the worry bully tells them to worry about on the next handout.
The last part of the intervention is to brainstorm with the child ways that they can get the Worry Bully to disappear. There are many different ways that a child could respond, some of which are listed below. A child can also say they can ignore their worry bully or distract themselves. I generally have my clients practice telling their Worry Bully to go away. This part of the intervention is really empowering and I’ve seen a visible increase in kids’ confidence when they tell their Worry Bully to go away out loud!
Have you ever used the Worry Bullies to explain anxiety to kids? Let me know how it went in the comments below and don’t forget to get your FREE Worry Bully Handouts!
Until next time, Play On!