An Interview with Andi Green: The Worry Woos

Aug 8, 2014 by

Michael F. Shaughnessy –

1) Andi, you apparently have developed some characters to help kids cope with fears—tell us about them.

My “Monsters are Loneliness, Confusion, Insecurity, Innocence, Frustration and Worry with Envy coming out in 2015. These are all based on feelings I’ve had at one time or another…and so has everyone else.

When I remember my childhood, I remember good times , but also times of loneliness, times of frustration, times of insecurity, fear of trying things and indecision – all of which  fall under  the  big umbrella of Worry – thus WorryWoos. When I started my WorryWoo series in 2005 these were the emotions I wanted to depict; emotions that everyone can relate to in one form or another.

And while these feelings may be the bases for more serious problems, I wanted to reach out and address what makes kids (as well as adults) anxious. In addition, not being a therapist, just a person who has gone through these feelings, I wanted to humanize these emotions by exaggerating the Monster’s personalities with humor,  as well as provide a positive spin on topics that don’t have easy answers.

Since everyone can use a little bit of help, each story takes the liberty of introducing an amusing character who comes to save the day in a non-didactic but effective manner. My goal is for parents, school personnel and caretakers to take each story and mold it to the needs of a given child. In this way, fears can be addressed and the stories adapted to the needs of individual kids with the emphasis on “You’re not alone: we’ve all been there.”

2) Also, there are books that go along with various emotional states. What do you address?

Currently, there are six books based on a solitary emotion, Worry, Loneliness, Confusion, Insecurity, Innocence, Frustration and the upcoming envy. As I indicated in the first question, my goal has been to create stories about basic emotions. To some people they may be considered run of the mill feelings, to the person with the emotional problem, it is a “big deal.”

Unfortunately, there isn’t always a pat answer on solving individual problems. They are part of who we are and once we realize that others have the same feelings it becomes easier to attempt to deal with them. This is why one of my core phrases is “Embrace Your Emotions.” I also believe that humor is important, and that we should be able to stand back and learn to laugh; not at ourselves but at the way we sometimes react. This is the trait I try to put into my characters; the ability to take a breath, be mindful…but not judgmental.

3) It seems that kids and tweens and adolescents can get “ unfriended “ on one of those social sites-is this one of the scenarios that might be explored?

Individual emotions are in a category of their own. What you’ve brought up is but one of the many situations which triggers a variety of emotions. In that sense, being unfriended is somewhat like being bullied. And while I haven’t ventured into those sub-topics ,I can say that existing themes of the WorryWoo series touch upon  related issues.

For example The Monster of insecurity deals with self-acceptance, The Monster of Loneliness: lack of friends; Twitch, alienation and rejection etc.  Kids who have been unfriended deal with isolation and ultimately feel insecure. So, in a sense, I hope I’ve opened up the lines of communication so that kids can discuss with an adult, these ultimate forms of social rejection should they encounter them.

The emotions a tween goes through when something like this happens is so gut-wrenching.  My hope is that we can get to these emotions first and teach them it’s ok to feel insecure, lonely or worried and emphasize that even the perpetrator has feelings. I know how hard my tween/teen years were and I can’t even imagine what is like to be a tween/teen in today’s facebooking twittering instagraming world Fortunately, I had a wonderful diversion: drawing.

This was my way of expressing my feelings. Although my background does not fall in the clinical field, I hope that my experiences, as interpreted by the Woos, will help create a path for others to learn about their behavior and also develop a healthy outlet. With knowledge comes power and I want to arm our children with as much emotional knowledge as I can so that they can brush off the effects of being unfriended, bullied etc.- and get on with their lives.

4) Who are these WorryWoo Monsters? What do they look like?

The WorryWoo Monsters are not one-dimensional creatures in personality…or style. Each has its own three dimensional unique look : from cuddly Nola and Squeek to the quirky indecisive Fuddle,  insecure Rue (who sports a “big schnozzle )or the purple, frazzled  looking Twitch. The linchpin of the group, Wince The blue Monster of Worry and his little nemesis, the WorryBug immediately call out for a big hug and protection The plush, which run from 10 to 12 inches, are all made of soft fabrics and have wide innocent eyes (made of fabric) which are safe for kids of all ages. Each character has its own look and feel. I tried to capture the softer side of the emotion through bright colors, big eyes and WorryWoo “emotion spots.” These symbolize the fact that our emotions are an integral part of who we are, and we often “wear our feelings.”

5) How do these monsters help kids cope?

I believe that by sharing their stories the monsters will help children cope and address emotions that they haven’t been able to understand and or express. It is hard for many individuals, let alone children to express what’s deep inside. But sometimes when you see or hear it, the light bulb goes on and you say, “Hey that’s me!” Times like this often help start a dialogue which allows kids to say what’s really on their minds. In addition, while my emphasis has been on the average kid with the average angst, it’s important to note that these “small problems” can often form the basis for what turns into more serious issues if they haven’t been attended to in a timely manner. Hopefully, the Woos and their antics will bridge the gap between what kids say and what they feel.

6 )What have I neglected to ask?

I think you’ve covered almost everything. But I do want to mention that we have some really great things happening!  First, there’s The WorryWoo musical, Woosical, Jr.: The story of Rue which will be on stage at the New York New Works Theater Festival in Times Square on Aug 27th.  We also have a new book coming out in October, 2014, Helping Young Worriers Beat the WorryBug. This companion guide to Don’t Feed the WorryBug was written by renowned, child- psychologist, Dr. John Irvine of NSW, Australia. It is our first collaboration with “Dr. John”, who has worked extensively in the field of education. We have been energized by this mutual initiative and hope that this will encourage adults to realize the part they play in helping kids get in touch with their emotions. I’d like to conclude by emphasizing we also have a great App, Wince and The WorryBug, available on i-Tunes which is another wonderful tie-in to the storybook.

7) Do you have a web site where people can get more information?

Yes, WorryWoos.com and we also have an FB page (we don’t unfriend.. haa) facebook.com/worrywoos

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