The last month or two I have noticed that my daughter will let other children dictate what the play activity is for the moment. At first I didn’t think much of it, thinking it was just a phase that she will grow out of. Then Nicole, the other half of The Chicken’s Egg, gave her Worry Dolls. If you are not familiar they are small little dolls in a very small box that originate from Guatamala. According to the Mayan legend, when your worries keep you awake you take out a doll and share your worry. Then place the doll under your pillow and your worries will be gone by morning.
After my daughter was given these worry dolls she asked to try it one night. She pulls out these itty bitty dolls and carefully selects the one she wants to share her worry with. I admittedly was a bit dismissive and was really ready to get her to bed but then I heard her tell the doll that she was upset. She didn’t want to play what her friend was playing but she played anyway. This made my ears perk up. I went over to her and asked her what happened and she proceeded to tell me in more detail.
Turns out that my little girl was not speaking up for herself because she thought that she would loose a friend. The worry dolls helped her to focus and express her concern in a safe way and we were able to talk and discuss alternatives to help her have better relationships with her friends. I reassured her that she would not loose someone that really cared about her if she was kind when she spoke her mind. That it was ok not to play with her friend the whole time if she wanted to do something else and her friend didn’t want to join. They would still be friends. Within a short time I started to see her speak up for herself among her friends and they are now equals instead of leader and follower.
We still use the worry dolls nightly. Sometime, she simply says she had no worries for the day and other times she tells me what she go in trouble for that day. We also discuss the good things that happened because I don’t want bedtime to just be a refection of the unhappy things that happened during the day.
Something so simple has created a wonderful way for my daughter to open up and feel free to tell me things without prompting. If you don’t have worry dolls you could use a special stuffed animal and follow the similar rule. Try it out tonight and see if you can get your child to open up.
Written by Jamie Jackson