Worry dolls also sometimes known as trouble dolls are small handcrafted dolls, originating from Guatemala, made with the specific purpose of being given to children to help alleviate their troubles and help to ensure they have a good night’s sleep.
The origins of the dolls come from Mayan culture where they are thought to have been made to represent the princess Ixmucane who was given a wonderful gift by the Sun God, the wisdom to be able to deal with any worry that a person could have.
By making dolls that represented the princess and her gifts, children were able to tell the doll their worries and the doll would give them the wisdom they needed to deal with their worries by the morning.
Using Worry Dolls Today
Today worry dolls are often sold as souvenirs and you can find them in lots of fair trade stores as the traditional methods of making them are still used and so buying worry dolls helps sustain local communities and keep artisan skills alive. But just because they have become trinkets doesn’t mean you can’t still use them for their intended purpose.
Worry dolls make great gifts for children and adults alike who can use the dolls to help them process and alleviate worries. While it might feel a bit far fetched that you could tell your worries to a doll and they will be gone by morning, the principles of talking out loud about fears and anxieties are the same as those used in modern psychology.
Many child psychologists use dolls as children often find it easier to articulate their fears and other emotions to a toy than a person. With so many things to worry about going on in the world at the moment having a practise of speaking their worries out loud and letting them go can be really powerful for children. Especially if they don’t feel comfortable talking to their parents or carers about these troubles.
Simply saying what they are worrying about is a great way to process their fears. Dolls don’t ask questions or need clarification, they simply absorb the worries and help children let go of them.
Putting the doll under their pillow while they sleep can mean that the doll is looking after or taking care of their worries for them. As adults we may write in a journal or talk through our worries with a friend or partner. A worry doll allows children to do the same thing. And there is no reason adults can’t use them as well.
You can use worry dolls over and over again and you can have multiple dolls at the same time each one looking after a different worry. This can be good for children as they can share their worries out to make them less overwhelming. Afterall, the last thing you would want is for your child to be worrying about their worry dolls.
Next Up: Where Do Worry Dolls Come From