Helping Students Track Their Worries

When working with kids who struggle with worry, one of the first systems I want to put in place is a worry tracker. There are so many important skills we can learn and practice in a session, but if students aren’t aware of their worry triggers or patterns in their worry, it’ll be hard for them to use preventative measures in the future. I want students to be in tune not only with their thoughts but with their bodies and surroundings as well. Looking for patterns in worries will help kids who worry gain insight and help them feel empowered to manage those worries. Like any other counseling skill, tracking worries takes teaching and practice. But with practice, your students will become more aware of their experiences so that they can use all of those strategies you’re teaching when it counts!

Help kids who worry track their experiences and look for patterns to drive your counseling sessions and build worry battling calming skills! Worry trackers will help drive worry activities in your worry counseling sessions for school counseling or group counseling!

Help Kids Who Worry Track & Manage Their Worries

To help kids who worry track those thoughts, I use several worry tracking pages in a worry workbook that students can keep in a binder or folder. They will need to keep the pages with them at all times so they can record their worry experiences. On the first page, I have the student record all of the pertinent information: the worry thought, the physical experience of worry, the time of day and place, what happened before the worry, what happened after the worry, and the calming strategy the student used (if any). Then on the following pages, students record just the time, just the physical experience, and so forth. So, they will have a full page just listing the preceding events, a full page just listing body clues, etc. As they continue to add more worries, these additional pages will allow students to easily recognize patterns in their worries which will help direct sessions.

Help kids who worry track their experiences and look for patterns to drive your counseling sessions and build worry battling calming skills! Worry trackers will help drive worry activities in your worry counseling sessions for school counseling or group counseling!

Time & Activity

First, I want students to notice the time of day or the activity they’re doing when they have worries. Is it 7:55 am each day, right before school starts? Is it while they’re waiting for the bus every morning? Or is it when math small groups start? Becoming aware of the times that worries intrude will help students recognize patterns and provide direction for teaching skills.

For example, if your student’s worries are most common before boarding the bus, you can look into social worries or safety worries and help your student build self-talk around these topics. If you’re working on worry-battling self-talk with your student, you might want to grab Worry Says What? by Allison Edwards. It’s full of great self-talk examples!

Help kids who worry track their experiences and look for patterns to drive your counseling sessions and build worry battling calming skills! Worry trackers will help drive worry activities in your worry counseling sessions for school counseling or group counseling!

Body Clues

Making note of the way worry feels in the body will help your students recognize when worry is coming on, label it that way, and use strategies to deal with it. If your student noted on her worry tracker that each time she felt worried, her muscles were tense and her heart was beating rapidly, you can practice calming strategies to help her in the moment. Teaching controlled breathing or simple yoga stretches can help her to relieve muscle tension and slow her heart rate when she recognizes worries coming on. Being aware of these patterns will not only help your student better understand her physical experiences but empower her to use strategies that can nip those physical experiences in the bud before they feel uncontrollable.

Preceding Events

I have students write down preceding events so we can consider some worry triggers. Here’s an example: on Monday morning, Kayla from math group made a joke about your student’s incorrect answer. Your student then worried, “Does everyone think I’m stupid?” On Monday afternoon, Tom from the reading group giggled when your student mispronounced a word while reading aloud. You student then thought, “Oh no, everyone does think I’m stupid! What if I don’t even pass third grade?”

Recognizing these preceding events will help you and your student tackle the automatic thoughts that happen when others make comments or laugh at her. Practice looking for counter-evidence or putting things in perspective! Think of all the people who don’t think she’s stupid. Does mispronouncing a word or making one mistake in math really mean she won’t pass third grade?

What Happened After

Noting what students do after they have worry thoughts will help them to evaluate if they are handling the worry in positive or negative ways. Is your student asking to go to the bathroom and staying in there for 15 minutes to avoid the situation altogether? Or is your student asking for a break in the calm corner, setting a 5 minute time, and then returning when he’s dealt with the worry?

Strategies Used

When your students are trying out new worry-battling skills or calming strategies, they can also track what does and doesn’t work. Controlled breathing isn’t going to feel effective for every student, and that’s okay. It might not work for the same student in all situations. Have your students write down the skills they used and then identify if the strategy helped them to calm the worries. Tracking this portion of the process will help them identify patterns for effective skills or even skills that work in certain situations but not others.

Help kids who worry track their experiences and look for patterns to drive your counseling sessions and build worry battling calming skills! Worry trackers will help drive worry activities in your worry counseling sessions for school counseling or group counseling!

How do you help your students who worry? You can download these worry tracking pages for free to get started with your students to look for patterns and drive your counseling sessions! When students better understand what their worries are and when they might expect them, they feel empowered to use those amazing strategies that you’re teaching in your counseling sessions!

Want a ready-to-use worry workbook to help your students tackle their worries and build effective skills? You’ll love this workbook.

Help kids who worry track their experiences and look for patterns to drive your counseling sessions and build worry battling calming skills! Worry trackers will help drive worry activities in your worry counseling sessions for school counseling or group counseling!

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