This summer, The WARM Place was invaded by our newest friend, our very own Worry Monster!
The Worry Monster is brought into our groups to help the children identify their worries and fears. Children write or draw their worries on slips of paper. Then they “feed” them to the Worry Monster! Some children say the act of “feeding” their worries to the monster help the worries go away. Some worries take more time to work through. To complete the activity, the children make their own Worry Monsters out of Play Dough to take home. That way, they can continue to “feed” their worries and fears to their own Worry Monster.
We know that children will often experience an increase in their worries after the death of a loved one. After a parent dies, it is common for a child to worry about changes to their daily lives and even worry about bigger questions many years into the future. Their worries can include “Who will take me to school? Who will help me with my homework? Who’s going to walk me down the aisle when I get married?”
Sometimes children already know what they’re worried about. Sometimes that worry is just a big blob of pain in their stomach, and they need help finding the words to talk about it. That’s where the Worry Monster comes in. After numerous groups did the Worry Monster activity, I collected all the slips of paper that the children fed to the monster. It didn’t take long before I noticed a theme. So many of the children expressed one common worry: fear of others dying.
Even to seasoned counselors at The WARM Place, those slips of paper were heartbreaking. Grieving children carry all the regular worries of childhood, and on top of that, many carry the fear of losing more of their loved ones.
That’s why attending support groups at The WARM Place is so crucial for grieving children. Just because grief is a normal, healthy reaction to a death loss doesn’t mean children are able to navigate the experience on their own.
They need to be with other grieving children who understand their feelings, share their questions, and validate their worries. Then, with the help of trusted and trained Facilitators, they continue to express those things in group, and eventually, they share those feelings with their parents. Similarly, it’s crucial for the parent/guardian to participate in our adult groups. We want adults to have the tools to help support their children once the children begin opening up about their feelings.
That is the full-circle of healing: peer support, group facilitation, and communication within the family. That has been our mission since Day 1 at The WARM Place and why we work so hard to continue supporting grieving families. No child should face these worries alone. Thanks to the steadfast commitment of our staff, volunteers — and even our Worry Monster– they don’t have to.
The Worry Monster was created by our very own WARM Place counselor Gina Brown and our Program Assistant Myrna Binion after Gina was looking for a unique way for children to express their worries. This activity was adapted from Feed The Monster on www.prekinders.com