SPARKLERS / Managing emotions

Managing Worries

Help tamariki understand and manage their worries.
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Why we love it

Anxiety is a normal response to fearful situations. It can help us stay safe and get things done. But anxiety can become an issue if negative thoughts start affecting our ability to feel good and function well.

We know worrying and anxiety are issues for many young people in Canterbury and this activity, along with the recommended reading, is about helping students to manage worries, keep them in perspective and reach out if their anxious thoughts start to feel overwhelming.


We all get stressed and worried sometimes. To start the kōrero, talk about a couple of times you’ve been worried. Then ask:

  • How do we know we’re worried? What does it feel like in our body?
    Sick, overwhelmed, sore tummy, head aches, sweaty hands or armpits, hard to talk, heart beating fast.
  • What can we do to help worries go away?
    Talk to someone, do something to fix it or feel good. Take deep breaths. Think of the worry as a tiny bug we can squash or walk away from!
  • What shouldn’t we do? What makes it worse?
    Keeping it bottled up, pretending it will go away, thinking scary things, not telling anyone, or talking to people who also tend to worry.

What to do

For this activity, you will need a bottle of fizzy water and an outdoor space.

Remind students that if we bottle up a big worry or hold on to lots of little ones, the pressure can really build up.

Then ask tamariki to form a circle outside, and to think of the sorts of things they might worry about.

  1. What worries us? Take turns saying a worry, then shaking the bottle and passing it on. Younger tamariki may need help holding and shaking the bottle. As you do this, make the connection between what’s going on in the bottle and what happens when worries bubble up and we don’t do anything about them… the pressure builds.
  2. What helps? Take turns sharing a solution, and releasing the pressure just a little, until the bottle gets back to you.
    - If the bottle explodes: Explain that this is what can happen if worries are kept ‘bottled up’. They can feel out of control! What can we do when worries bubble over? Help each other out.
    - If the bottle doesn’t explode and the fizz runs out, let tamariki, shake it again, then release a little of the pressure as they say a solution.

When you regroup ask them to explain what the experiment demonstrated in relation to worries. What might we do rather than let our worries build up? Share them! Not let them build up. Work together. Sometimes even laugh at them. Taking action can help the pressure lift.

Ask them to think of two people they could share their worries with (you could be one of them). As homework, they could tell these people that they’ll come to them when worries arise and start to build up.

Keen for more?

We'd recommend reading these great books:

  • Maia and The Worry Bug, by Julie Burgess-Manning (ages 5-8, worry)
  • The Rising Tide, by Sabrina Dickson (ages 8-12, worry)
  • Mr Jelly, by Roger Hargreaves (ages 5-10, fears)
  • Mr Worry, by Roger Hargreaves (ages 5-10, worry)

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