by Kathy Bockhorst
Even for young children, learning to effectively manage, worries is an important challenge. I am in the process of visiting first grade classes, to teach strategies for managing worries, and have been delighted with how interested and responsive the students have been. A worry is identified as “a thought that makes us feel bad”. Many students have been able to make the connection between worry thoughts and somatic responses, such as headaches and stomachaches. They have also been able to recognize that though a headache due to a worry may hurt just as much as one due to germs, how we remedy it is very different. For worry headaches, we need to push out the worry thoughts and then get busy to keep the worry thoughts at bay.
To do this, I introduced the strategy of “Talking Back to the Worry Bully” based on curriculum from the “The Zones of Regulation” by Leah Kuypers and “What to Do When You Worry Too Much” by Dawn Huebner. We discussed how worry thoughts are like bullies, in that they repeatedly bother us with lies and/or exaggerations. The first graders have been very open sharing a variety of school worries they experience, such as getting on the wrong bus or not knowing how to do something. They have been able to draw their own worry bullies and practice talking back to ithem For example, the Worry Bully might tell a student that school will be awful because (s)he will miss his/her family too much, and the student Talk Backs saying that “Get lost Worry Bully - Lot’s of people at school care about me too!” Click the link below to access the presentation.