In the context of a game or roleplay, parents can use puppets or a silly voice to differentiate worry thinking from regular thinking. A worry bug can be buzzing around, scaring a stuffed animal, say an elephant who is afraid of dogs, only because the worry bug keeps saying mean, bossy things-"you can't play with the doggy, doggies bark and you are too scared." Parents can then turn to your child and say, "Wow that worry bug is being so mean, and it's not right. It is saying that all doggies are mean, that's not true, let's think of some nice doggies. So now when we go for a walk and the worry bug tries to scare you, you can be brave and boss it back! Let's use a strong voice and say, "Hey worry bug, doggies can be nice, go away, I'm the boss!
Idea Box: Use stuffed animals to play out the parts, ask the child what the stuffed animal is afraid of; use a different stuffed animal to say the "brave" thoughts about the situation.
From Freeing Your Child from Anxiety by Tamar Chansky, Ph.D. (Broadway, 2004). All rights reserved.
Brought to you by The Children's and Adult Center for OCD and Anxiety.