Written by Stefanie Rowe
Over the last several weeks, we have all had so much change. Truly, we are living in unprecedented, historic, and frankly,–weird–times. This has, to no surprise, caused an increase in anxiety among adults and kids alike. Today I want to share with you a technique I use with my kids to help them get their worries out of their minds, into words, and into my knowledge.
The technique is called the “Worry Box.” Each night, after supper when the kids are showering, winding down, and reading– I hug them and cuddle them and often read next to them. I love to ask them, individually, about the “high point” of their day and the “low point” of their day. (I don’t require them to share a low point, but I do require a high point.) Then, I ask them if they have anything to put in my “Worry Box.”
The “Worry Box,” I tell them, lives inside my head. It’s a temporary place for their worries to go so I can take care of them while they sleep. Sometimes, I will pretend to take their worries and “tuck them into my brain.” I always thank them for telling me their worries, applaud them for the courage it takes to say things out loud, and I take great care to not minimize their concerns. For example, I might say “Oh, I’m so glad you told me that. I’m going to tuck that into my Worry Box so you don’t have to worry about it tonight. Thank you so, so much for telling me!” Then, I might add some thoughts and comments about any particular worry. For example, if a child put into the Worry Box that “I’m worried I will get sick”, then I might respond as above, first thanking the child and encouraging the openness. Then I might add something like “Remember, we are doing everything the doctors have told us to do to keep ourselves well. We are staying away from crowds of people and doing school at home and giving people extra space at the store.” With that, I try my best to add extra cuddles and prayers and hair tossing, but not belabor the point or over talk it.
Then, the next day when a moment presents itself I might bring it up again. It’s good to talk these things through again when it’s not time for “lights out”. Sometimes I will say more and my kids will say more if we’re all not tired and I’m not afraid talking something out is going to make things worse, not better, right before bedtime. (If this is your concern, you can also incorporate the Worry Box into a different part of your daily routine altogether, for example over Breakfast.)
By the way, sometimes at night I add my own worries to my pretend “Worry Box.” Then, I pray about them, hand them over to Jesus, and put the pretend box on a pretend shelf and know that it will still be there for me in the morning, but that I can sleep for now. Isn’t it nice to know that Jesus takes the night shift for us?
Sleep well, my friends.