As the mom of a young child, there is always one thing we have to learn how to conquer… a child’s fears. Many times, these can even be completely irrational and take some serious thought on HOW exactly to help them overcome something that we may find completely ridiculous. I mean the normal monsters in the closet, afraid of the dark, don’t want to be alone fears are bad enough but what about when your child is terrified of the sound of crickets at night (you can’t stop those!) a fly passing by can become a 4 year olds biggest fear and you’d think a giant shark just tried to swallow them whole.. but what can you do? I have had moments where I was at my breaking point trying to figure out ways to stop the irrational fears my toddler can create. Until we received Flint, our pirate Worry Eater! I’ll admit, the concept behind this toy was a bit of a laughing point for my husband and I. But, when you have run out of ideas, you are willing to try things. I’m looking at Flint and I think “boy, if I was 4, THIS would BE my fear.. its like a pirate monster….” but oddly enough, my son did not see it that way!
Worry eaters are a line of plush toys imported to the US by Haywire group. Each character has big round eyes, multiple ears and or horns, and a zippered mouth. They are extremely soft and cuddly and for some reason easily appeal to kids. The theory behind the worry eaters is that a child can write or draw their fears, unzip the mouth, and feed it to their worry eater. When they awake in the morning, the worry eater will have helped them realize their fear wasn’t so big and help them overcome it. Throughout the day, they can be used as a source of comfort, fun, and a great play time partner for little ones. My son instantly took to Flint and decided he could be his friend and help him play on the trampoline, even though the big scary flies were outside. Oddly enough it seemed to work some how. I guess since everything is in the child’s mind, they can believe they are safe if they want to believe it.
At night, if he has had a scary experience that day, he will ask his big brother to help him draw it out and feed it to Flint. Before bed, we feed it and zip the mouth closed. He snuggles with his worry eater all night long. If I am unsure what his fear is, I will sneak in his room and look at the paper. Sometimes, I take the paper completely and when he wakes I tell him it must have been a really silly and little fear if Flint just swallowed it! When Flint thinks its a crazy fear, he just has to agree and it almost instantly ends. Things like the crickets and bugs didn’t end instantly. We left those and talked about them as much as possible. We decided if flint left them overnight, it was something that we could take our time overcoming and work together. One night, Flint even brought him a bug catcher so we could catch the bugs he feared and learn about them!
I must say, something I thought was “just a stuffed toy” has made a big difference in the peace in my house. Now that he has been here a few weeks, we don’t seem to have worries to feed him on a nightly basis. But he is always there in the bed when we need him and accompanies little man on many adventures throughout the day. If you have a little one anxious about things in their life, I definitely recommend giving it a try. At the least its a new toy they will like, but if you are lucky like myself an many other moms, these worry eater may just eat those worries about and make life so much easier! You can find the entire line of worry eaters on Haywire Group’s website. You can also follow them on Facebook and twitter to stay up to date on other great items they may have!