Games for Therapists and Parents: Additional thoughts on Jenga

jenga

I’ve noticed a lot of people have checked out my previous post “Jenga Anxieties and Worries.” Here are few more thoughts that I’ve came up with lately to add onto the topic.  Please take a look at the previous post, if you haven’t read it already — it will help give you a better context to what I am talking about.  Thank you for reading!  Please leave a comment, I would love to hear what you think!

1. At the end of the game, and after you’ve talked about or processed with your child or client their worries and anxieties, have them write down their anxiety and worry on one of the blocks.  Give it to them as a momento or souvenir, reminding them what worry and anxiety can do to them, if they don’t ask for help, share their burdens, or when take on too many things.  Just make sure you have plenty of extra blocks before you start giving them away.

Therapists, another idea is to do this with more of your clients, letting them write down their anxiety or worry on a piece of Jenga block, and begin a collection of Jenga blocks to use for the game.  So, whenever you pull out the game to play, other clients would be able to see and read what previous clients have wrote down on the blocks, and it would help them normalize what they are going through.  This will help them feel that they are not alone.  Of course, have your clients anonymously write down their worry and anxiety.

2.  This second idea is a demonstration of stress while playing Jenga.  It is not to be used as punishment, nor to purposely thwart or discourage your child or client.  It is to help them see how stress could affect their performance when playing this game.

After the first round, ask your child or client(s) to carry/hold one textbook (preferably those big, thick history, social studies, or math, or science text books) in one of their hands as they pull out their Jenga brick.  With each additional round, ask them to add another text book to their hand before they proceed with their turn.

After the tower falls, process with your child or client(s), ask them: how did it feel to have the extra weight when they were playing the game?  Was it harder to concentrate or focus with additional burdens while playing the game?  What can they connect these extra burdens to what is going on for them in their own life?  Ask them what they can do to unload those extra burdens in their own life to help them better manage the things they need to do?

This demonstration is also good for kids who struggle with ADHD, and teaching about concentration, coping skills, and self-care when one is balancing too many things in life.  With the kind of stress and schedules our high school kids are having in order to get into college, this activity may be good to help them realize the effects of having too many things on their plate.

Hope this is helpful!  Enjoy!

 

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Games for Therapist and Parents: Jenga Anxieties and Worries

Jenga

 

When you think of the game Jenga, does your hands start to get sweaty and you feel a bit jumpy and nervous?  For me, Jenga has a way of bringing out my anxieties rather than containing them — which actually makes it a great game to play with your kids or in therapy.

Next time you play Jenga, have each player answer one of the following questions each time they pull out a block and successfully places it on the top of the stack.

–  Name one of the things you’re nervous or worried about.

–  What do you do when you’re worried?

–  Tell about a time when you were worried or nervous, and what happened?

–  Name one of your remedies or solutions for feeling nervous or worried?

–  Name one thing that happens to your body physically when you get nervous or worried. (i.e. sweating, shaking, etc)

The main purpose of playing Jenga this way is to create discussion, encourage authenticity and transparency, and to normalize feelings of worry and anxiety.  So, the point of this game is not to be “Mr or Ms. Fix-It.”  Create an open and safe environment by listening, empathizing, and walking in the person who is sharing’s shoes.

DON’T GIVE ADVICE.  Even if your child or the client asks for advice, take the opportunity to encourage their problem solving skills rather than your own.  By doing this, you are empowering them and building their self-esteem and confidence.

Parents, you’d be surprised how your children will react when you share about a time when you were nervous or worried.  Showing your kids, especially adolescents, that you don’t have it all together will actually build respect, not tear it down.  Therapists, this activity is great for building rapport — just remember to prepare in advance and consider transference or counter-transference issues.

Lastly, when the Jenga tower collapses, remind everyone that even though the tower has collapsed, we are still standing; we have survived.

Have fun! Enjoy!

Please also check out “Additional thoughts on Jenga.”