Make Your Own Worry Dolls

My troubles with worry and anxiety started early in life.  I would worry about everything … especially at bedtime.  One of the ways my wonderful mom helped me cope was by getting me a set of “worry dolls” (like these).  They were a set of tiny dolls in a small wooden box.  She explained to me that at bedtime I could tell each doll one worry and they would work on the problem why I slept.  That way I could let go of my worry and get some rest.

I have always loved this idea of having little helpers.  And to this day I still use the technique of letting go my worries one by one to give my brain and body a break from anxiety.  I have also given my clients sets of worry dolls since I began working as a play therapist.  But one day recently I had a client come in that was in need of a set … but I didn’t have any left.  So, we made some for her during session.

It’s super simple … take a pipe cleaner and cut it in half.


Take one of the halves, fold it in half, and twist it leaving a loop at the top for the head.  The twist creates the midsection of the body.  The remainder of the pipe cleaner makes the legs.  Bend up the ends to create the feet.

Take the leftover half of the pipe cleaner and twist around the body just below the head to create the arms.  If the length of the arms or legs are off, either twist it around another time or cut to the desired length.

One pipe cleaner = one worry doll!

Of course, these little friends could be fun to make and play with anytime!

I’d love to hear from you if you make these worry dolls … or use worry dolls with your own children or clients!

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Laura Hutchison

Laura Hutchison (aka PlayDrMom) is a chubby kid turned competitive figure skater tween turned high school pom pon girl turned MSU Spartan turned grad student turned Mrs. HutcH turned Dr. turned Mom. She adores living in the Mitten, is addicted to Diet Coke, and firmly believes that ice cream is a main food group.

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  1. Valerie @ Glittering Muffins

    So cool! I heard about those before, maybe it would help Nico some evenings, he does worry a lot too.

  2. Susan Case

    What a great idea! Love it.

  3. Ashley

    I have been struggling with my two year old, who has anxiety and OCD tendencies. I am taking her to a behavioral therapist, but this idea is new and interesting to me. Can you give me an example of how you would apply this? I would love anything that makes her bedtime more soothing, and less anxiety.

  4. What a great idea to make the dolls out of pipe cleaners!
    I shared this on the positive parenting connection community facebook page 🙂

  5. Laura

    Ashley … I would work this into the bedtime ritual – perhaps as one of the first things. I would list the things that I knew she was worrying about that day and have her give one worry to each doll. I would then have her put the dolls into their “office” maybe a box where they can take the worries over for the night … maybe even solve them! If she brings a worry up after this is done, remind her that the worry doll is taking care of it (or add a new one).
    In the morning I wouldn’t bring them up unless she does … and then talk about whether or not she was able to rest better at night. It’s normal for the worry to still be there … but the goal is to help her get some relief from worrying all the time.
    Good luck! Let me know how it goes!

  6. Ashley

    Thank you. I am going to try this. 🙂

  7. maggy, red ted art

    Your DIY worry dolls are such a great idea. They will be perfect for a friend’s daughter, who is unhappy about going to school at the moment…

    Thanks for sharing on Kids Get Crafty!


  8. Trisha @ Inspiration Laboratories

    Such a wonderful idea. Thanks for sharing at the Sunday Showcase. I’ve pinned the post to our feature board. 🙂

  9. Carrie

    Oh, what a great idea. I have been meaning to make some worry dolls and have not gotten to them yet. I love these though! Thank you so much for sharing at Sharing Saturday!!

  10. ashley r

    What does your paper say that you give to your clients to explain or remind them how worry dolls are used? I have about 16 kids to do this with! Poor little things with lots of anxiety

  11. Laura

    That’s a great idea to include a note with the dolls for the kids to bring home! I haven’t done that yet … but I like the idea of simply stating “Share your worries with these dolls at night. They will work on your worries while you get some sleep.”

    Thanks for commenting!

  12. Francisca Castano

    I have a set of worry dolls for my 4 year old. We keep them at her bedside because she has had sleep trouble, including nightmares since she was born. She can wake up in the middle of the night and tell them her nightmare so they can take it away from her. Whether or not you believe in the superstition, it is very relieving for them to let out the concern and move forward.

  13. Mayan Fair Trade Guatemala

    If you want to purchase worry dolls items, you can visit

  14. John

    Making your own worry dolls is a great idea, they work really well for younger children anyway but the real importance is the benefits they bring, not what they’re made of. It would be good for a lot of children if they were to make their worry dolls themselves as it would allow them to build a stronger bond with the dolls and probably bring greater benefits. Extra thumbs up for the relative simplicity of the idea of using a pipe cleaner!

  15. shonda

    Wow! I love this and will use it! I worried so much as a kid and wish I had these! So, of course my kids worry too. I got my son’s teacher a set of finger puppets. I think I’ll suggest that they use them for this application as part of a transition box from his special ed classroom back to other class.

    He has adhd and asperger’s and worries a lot. He has the most amazing teachers who will try just about anything I suggest to help him. Btw, the finger puppets are a very cute multicultural set from ebay that I spent just a couple of bucks on.

  16. Lisa

    I’m so excited to have this little idea stashed away to use with one of my little worriers….I can hardly wait. Thanks.

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