Emotions seem to be a big topic with kids at the moment, from help from the Pixar’s Inside Out and the ubiquitous emoji. I like that these are giving us the opportunity to pay more attention to our kids’ feelings and figure out the best way to support them. So I was happy to discover the new Worry Eaters dolls, whose purpose is to help kids address and handle stress and other concerns with friendly support.

In my day we had trouble dolls. For my nieces there was “monster spray” for under the bed. And now our kids have Worry Eaters, a new line of plush friends that eats up children’s worries and carry their burdens so that they don’t have to. Sweet, right?

Just have your child write a description or draw a picture of what’s bothering them, then “feed” it to the doll through a zippered mouth. It’s a simple concept, but if properly presented to children, it can be a really handy tool to help them tackle issues they might otherwise have a tough time communicating, whether it’s a test they’re stressed about, a big party coming up, or bigger family issues going on, as I learned with my own daughter.

Worry Eaters dolls are like today's trouble dolls, helping kids process their concerns and emotions

When I broke one out at home I admit I was pretty surprised when my six-year-old drew a picture depicting the loss of my grandmother. I knew it was an issue that was still in the air at home, but I hadn’t known just how much it was on my daughter’s mind. The Worry Eater helped me identify and acknowledge her feelings so I could be extra-attentive, making me realize what a wonderful tool these can be for providing parents new insight about what’s happening in their kids’ minds.

Of course for older kids, it could be a great way for them to get out a concern or issue that they don’t want to discuss with you just yet. No doubt the older they get, the more of those there will be.

Worry Eaters dolls come as 8 different characters in small and large sizes that start at $16. Check out the full line at the Haywire webshop.