Trouble dolls as a tool to practice sharing problems and reducing stress.

Image: Picture taken at Starr's House, Denton, TX

Today I told the children about Guatemalan trouble (worry) dolls and how they’re used and then asked, “Do you have a problem or trouble?” Hands flew up! “I didn’t get to carry my cat,” said one. Then, “My brother didn’t give me his book.”

“Yes,” I exclaimed! "That is what to tell a trouble doll. When you tell your troubles, they do not stay inside of your heart and grow." I slowly and carefully took out a trouble doll and held it close to my mouth. I whispered loud enough for the children to hear, “I woke up late, didn't get to eat breakfast, and now I’m crabby.” Then I put the trouble doll away.

They all wanted one! 

I was an adult before I learned the power of reducing stress by telling a trusted person my trouble. The trouble doll simply "listens." Sharing with another who listens gives me a couple gifts: I feel heard, I get to hear myself tell my trouble, and in telling, I reduce my discomfort.

I’ve used trouble dolls in preschool classrooms to teach this helpful practice. I place it in a small heart-shaped box on the peace table where a child can use it freely. 

Before I left, a trouble arose! A child found a large, furry caterpillar to place in a jar for observation and another child hoped it would be hers. The disappointed child told the trouble to the doll. Afterward, we headed out to the garden to search for insects. This large, black and white dragonfly caught her attention.

Each child will get a trouble doll to take home at the end of the day.