Make Your Own Guatemalan Worry Dolls:

Like everybody, children worry. Sometimes having someone to listen is enough to help soothe a worried mind. Dealing with problems is a complex skill for children to learn, but it’s important to be able to put problems aside until a solution is found.

These magical little worry dolls will help children develop emotional resilience. They will learn to communicate, develop coping stratagies and put their worries and concerns into perspective.

In Guatemalan tradition, a legend says that the dolls come from a Mayan princess named Ixmucane. The princess got a present from the Sun God which gave her the power to solve any problem any person could ever worry about.

For generations families in Guatemala have given the little dolls to children who are worried or sad. The child tells the worry to a doll and then tucks the doll under his or her pillow at night. The doll worries for them overnight, leaving them free to sleep peacefully. In the morning the problem will look different and a solution will arise.

Worry dolls are still used today in child psychiatry.  The doll acts as a contact person, a listener and a tool for children to learn to communicate.

What you will need:

  • Wooden clothes pegs
  • Small scraps of fabric
  • Beads
  • Markers
  • Paint
  • Wool
  • Bobbly eyes


What to do:

You can make these dolls any way you like. I find they form their personality as you make them. Here is how I do it with my children:

Faces: Use a marker to draw a mouth and nose onto the round part of the wooden clothes peg. Stick two bobbly eyes on.

Hair: Hair can be drawn on with marker, or made with wool. Choose a colour of wool and cut little pieces. Glue the little pieces on the top of the clothes peg. You may want to line your little pieces of wool up and stitch them in the middle first.

Clothes: You can draw the clothes on, paint the pegs and draw on top or wrap a small rectangle of fabric around and tie it on with cotton. You can also wind cotton or string around and around until it covers the whole body.

Necklaces: Thread tiny beads onto cotton and wrap them around as necklaces.


This little note comes with the dolls that are sold in Guatemala. You may like to write it out and stick it onto your dolls!

“Tell these dolls your secret wishes. Tell them your problems. Tell them your dreams. And when you awake, you may find the magic within you to make your dreams come true.” 



  1. Charles E. Schaefer, Donna Cangelos:Essential Play Therapy Techniques: Time-Tested Approaches. Guilford Publications, New York 2016, ISBN 1462524516, page 102
  2. Jan-Henrik Johansson:Dolls without limits. BoD – Books on Demand, 2014, ISBN 952286983X, page 170.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s