The Worry Jar

mason_jars_sThis activity can help children express, organize and contain worries. It can be a useful tool for helping parents communicate with their children. 

I have used this activity on many occasions and it seems to be useful for working with kids and families in many different situations. There are many ways to adjust this activity. Feel free to use what materials you have on hand. You may use jars, containers, or boxes for the worry jar “vessel.” You can also use rocks, paper or other items  to write worries on. Some of these worries may be “friends” or “school.”  The first step of the project is to help the child write down different worries that they have and put them in the jar. These worries can be discussed while the child is creating the jar and stones or can be left to discuss later. The jar can then be brought out in future situations to help with the focus of treatment. The therapist may even allow the child to determine what “worry” he/she wants to work on for the day.

Another activity I have done with parents and children is to make an “adult” worry jar and a “child” worry jar. You can help the family together determine which worries go in which jar. This is helpful for children who worry about adult things to realize that their parent can take over the responsibility of some of those worries. 

This is an activity that can be adapted for home as well. Sometimes even the process of writing down worries and sealing them up in a jar can be therapeutic in itself. I would also mention, that this is an activity that can be used for very young kids, but could also be quite useful for adults.  Hope you find this idea useful!

The Castle Activity

mycastleGoal: To help children think and talk about their own relationships, boundaries and defenses 

I got this idea from one of my amazing co-workers.  It has proved to be a great art project to get children thinking about their own personal boundaries and defenses. To start, have the child draw a castle. The castle represents the child’s “core.” The “core” is the true part of us that holds all of the secrets and thoughts and feelings that we have.  It is explained to the child that we all have people that we allow to know things about us, and there are other people that we keep out. 

Then the child is asked what types of protections are in place to protect the castle to keep people out. Are there moats, brick walls, barbed wire, animals, guards, weapons, or locked doors? The child can draw and explain these protections. 

Next, the child is asked what types of entrances are there to let people into the castle. Are there doors, windows, keys, tunnels, or ladders? How can people get in if you need them or want them to get in? 

When the child is done creating their castle, and nothing else needs to be added, help the child explore the different concepts regarding the metaphor of the castle. Ask the child, who they let in past the various protections? Who do they keep out? What are the benefits of having people inside or outside of the castle? What do you need if you are in the castle alone? What are some of the ways you keep people from getting to know you in real life (ie. lying, yelling, shutting down etc.) ? 

This activity can make abstract concepts like relationships, boundaries and defenses more concrete which can be helpful when working with children and families. One of the most important parts of this activity is being creative and having fun! Enjoy!