7 very good reasons why you should use worry statements

by | Apr 20, 2022 | Blog

Firstly, you might be wondering what a worry statement is?  That’s always handy to know if you are going to read on……

A worry statement is a simple, behavioral statement of the specific worries we have about a family and their kids now and for the future.   We use them in our conversations and work with vulnerable families, children and young people.

Worry statements typically have four parts to them:

  1. The names of the people who are worried
  2. The worrying behaviour by parents or caregivers that is harmful to children and young people
  3. The context (times and situations) the worrying behaviours typically happen in
  4. The impact on the kids

So, why use them?  

Here are 7 very good reasons I came up with:

  1. People often dance around tough conversations because they don’t want to upset or anger others. Workers sometimes do the same with families they are working with when they need to talk about what needs to happen to keep their kids safe. So, worry statements help workers be really clear with families because ‘unclear is unkind’ when families don’t understand.  

  2. Worry statements are solution focused because they focus on the problem (the worrying behaviour) instead of saying the person (parent or carer) is the problem.  The person is not the problem – it is their behaviour that could be having a negative impact on their family and kids.

  3. Worry statements help reduce shame. They are a trauma informed tool.  Just the mere fact of involvement of child protection services in their life can be shame inducing.  Research also tells us that parenting is also one of the most shame inducing topics.  People can’t understand or even hear you if they are in a state of shame. By focusing on the context that the worrying behaviour typically occurs in it can reduce feelings of shame with parents.  For example, a parent may be doing lots of things well except when a particular friends come around and brings drugs to party and it is in those contexts that they need to do things differently as they are too out of it to care for the children.

  4. Worry statements keep our work ‘child focused’ as they clearly state the impact on children and young people using behaviourally descriptive language.  For example, they are ‘scared and frightened’ or ‘dirty and smelly’.

  5. The word ‘worry’ conveys empathy and empathy is the key to connection and building helping relationships with families that support them to keep their families safe and well.  The language we use in the process of building the working relationship is important.  

  6. Worry statements can be developed collaboratively with families.  Then shared worry statements become the starting point for case planning and the process of change with families.
  7. The worry statement formula can be used in other settings to give feedback in supervision and any conversation for that matter.  Using a context – behaviour – impact statement is a universal feedback process used in many sectors of business.

So that’s 7 very good reasons to use worry statements in your practice with vulnerable children, young people, families and carers.  

If you’d like further info on worry statements or to know how to develop one collaboratively, check out this video I made with Sonja Parker on how to develop a worry statement with a mum.  It’s a free resource for you!

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