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Pause for Thought: So Much Worry

Worry balls

by Kirstine Davis

Suitable for Whole School (Pri) - Church Schools


To consider what to do about worrying.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need several small plastic balls, ideally the kind found in ball pits. If these are unavailable, substitute them with an alternative such as rolled-up socks.
  • You will also need a gift box that contains something personal. It could be an object that is marked with an initial, a piece of jewellery and so on. You will need to prime a member of staff to give you the present at an appropriate moment, saying something like, ‘Here you are! I have a lovely present for you!’


  1. Tell the children that you are worried about something and you don’t know what to do about it.

  2. Ask the children if they are worried about anything.

    Pause to allow time for thought.

    You might want to list some examples of things that the children might be worried about:

    - a family member being unwell
    - not being able to do the work in class
    - not having anyone to play with at break time

    Note: this is optional and should be done sensitively, with an awareness of the children’s situations.

  3. Explain that there are a few things that are worrying you today.

    As you name them, pick up two or three balls and hold them in your hands.

    Examples could include one of your children being unwell; not having time to do the shopping, so you don’t know what’s for dinner; not having time to tidy the house before your friend comes to stay; having too much marking to do and so on.

    Eventually, your hands will be full!

  4. At the appropriate moment, indicate to the member of staff to give you the present.

    Look around and then say that you can’t take the present because your hands are full. Ask the person giving the gift to place it on the floor.

  5. Ask the children what they think you should do. Explain that you really want to open the gift, but the only way you can do it is to put all the balls down. Suggest to the children that maybe you should empty your hands of all the worries.

  6. As you put the balls (worries) down, explain your thinking for allaying each worry. For example:

    - I don’t need to worry about losing my scarf; I just need to make sure that I put it with my coat when I take it off
    - I don’t need to worry about not having time to do the shopping tonight; I can use something from the freezer
    - I don’t need to worry about tidying the house; my friend won’t care about it anyway

  7. When your hands are empty again, pick up the gift and open it. Talk about the gift and how it is personal to you.

  8. Explain that Christians believe that God knows all about us and cares for us. The Bible tells us 366 times that we should not worry. That is once for every day, plus one! The Bible says that we don’t need to worry because we can trust in God. It tells us that God knows us so well that he even knows the number of hairs on our heads (Matthew 10.29-31) and when we get up and go to sleep (Psalm 139.2).

Time for reflection

Explain that you are going to lead the children in a special type of prayer called body prayer. It was created hundreds of years ago by a woman called Julian of Norwich. Ask the children to join in if they would like to.

- Imagine that you are holding your worries in your hands. Curl up your hands into strong fists, turn them so that the backs of your hands are facing upwards and then release them.
Prayer: God, I want to hold on tightly to the things that worry me. Help me to release them.

- Hold your hands out as if someone is giving you a present.
Prayer: God, please help me to appreciate the things that you have given me: a school, a home and enough to eat and drink.

- Take both hands to your chest.
Prayer: God, please help me to think about these things. Help me to take them to my heart and be grateful to you for all that you have given me.

- Hold your hands out in a sweeping gesture.
Prayer: God, please help me to give out love and kindness to other people.


‘The prayer of St Francis (Make me a channel of your peace)’, available at: (2.51 minutes long)

Publication date: September 2021   (Vol.23 No.9)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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