Teddy Bears Are Essential for Your Child's Development
Do you remember your favorite childhood teddy bear? Do you still have yours? Don’t worry I won’t judge you if you do because I may or may not still have one of mine. You may even be able to think of all the ways your teddy bear provided you with comfort.
We are quick to think that it’s just another toy to add to the clutter and the kazzilion other toys that children have but research has shown there are so many health benefits associated with having a teddy bear during infancy and childhood.
Teddy Bears Ease Transitions
As we know, separation of parents and baby is almost unavoidable in our society. Sooner or later, a child will attend preschool, daycare, and school. These moments of separation are known as transitions and science has proven that children who have a transitional object such as a teddy bear, handle these moments much better than those without one.
The transitional object is meant to remind a baby of his/her parents. Often times, parents hold and care for their baby, feed and rock their baby while their child is holding this teddy bear or soft item. The baby will cuddle it and begin to associate it with his or her parents. The bear will become a part of the relationship between the parent and child. It will become the comfort needed when parents are not present. The stuffed animal can ease stress, build confidence, soothe tears, and aid in social development. It helps the child handle fear, anxiety, separation, and the unknown. A teddy bear actually helps a child build self-confidence.
They Promote Social Skills
Not only are teddy bears the perfect transitional object for a child, but they have also been shown to evoke social development. Around the six-month mark, babies begin conversing with those around them, in their own alien-like language. This is when the brain begins picking up conversational cues of talking with other beings and not just making sounds. It is quite common for a baby to ‘chat’ with his or her toys. This is why having a transitional object with an appealing and happy face is important.
In addition, there is a reason that many trauma centers, psychologists, and social workers utilize teddy bears when working with young trauma victims. The comfort that comes with loving a stuffed bear can promote a safe environment in which a scared, lost, or hurt child will open up and feel safe again. These children need the constant comfort of having their own bear, and may keep it for a longer period of time than most. In therapy sessions, I always have a cuddly teddy bear available for client to hold and pet-- adults too!
They Help Develop Life Skills/Mood Regulation
The attachment children have with their bear will be one of security, friendship, and education. For example, when it comes time to brushing their teeth or getting dressed, you can ask your children to show their teddy bear how it's done. Toddlers love role-playing, basically because it allows them to become adults and do what the grownups do. Role-playing is a key ingredient in their learning process because they begin to understand the world they live in by playing.
You may even want to utilize your child’s teddy bear to role play why your child is getting emotional about going to school. Have your child ask the teddy bear why he/she is scared about school and help the teddy bear feel more comforted and reassured that everything will be okay.
Where Do They Go When We're All Grown Up?
Developmental psychologist Mark Brenner claims that we never fully abandon transitional objects or their presence in our lives. Rather, as we get older, we identify new objects that take on a similar sentimental value. You might not “cuddle” per se with a wedding band but the act of tying ourselves to objects in an emotional sense keeps us locked into the world in a way another person might not be able to
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