Why your kid needs that comfort object

Junior’s teddy bear isn’t just handy for lonely moments, it passes plenty of life skills to him.

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It sure is great to be a kid today. The variety of toys available at your tyke’s disposal is mind-blowing ― not only can he choose playthings in every shape, size and colour, he even pick from non-gender specific ones!

Better yet, many of these toys are also educational in nature. Not only do these entertain junior, he’ll hone his memory, motor and critical-thinking skills while he plays.

Kids learn about themselves and their world through play. But very often, the most beneficial toys are the simplest in nature. From the time he was a baby, you would have noticed your little one gravitates towards plush toys or toy figurines. This is because these playthings look like a version of your tyke, which makes it easier for your little one to relate to them.

“Comfort toys are also called transitional objects ― they provide psychological comfort, reassurance, familiarity and help children feel good,” notes Maguelonne Rousseau, a training consultant and parenting expert at Conscious Parenting, which organises regular parenting workshops and talks.

Noting that kids usually pick a comfort object between their first and second birthdays, which coincides with the development of separation anxiety, she adds, “The attachment to a comfort toy can last for many years, often until the age of 5, or even later. After which the children will get rid of it by themselves.”

“Up to 70 per cent of children develop a strong attachment to transitional objects. Despite what people think, it is not a sign of weakness or insecurity.”

Navigating first friendships 

“Up to 70 per cent of children develop a strong attachment to transitional objects,” points out Rousseau. “Despite what people think, it is not a sign of weakness or insecurity.”

On the contrary, having a bosom buddy in the form of a plush toy is a strong sign of good parental attachment, says Rousseau. Kids use the transitional object for reassurance. It helps them remember mummy and daddy and the secure feeling they have when they’re with their parents.

As long as junior also plays with other toys, runs outside and socialises normally, you don’t need to worry if they bring their favourite toy everywhere. By the way, it’s also perfectly fine if your child doesn’t have a connection to a particular item. It’s not a sign of poor attachment or that he isn’t gaining independence.

Even if you think that junior is overly attached to his comfort toy, don’t force him to give it up, especially if you feel he’s not ready to do so. “The harm done might not be worth it,” Rousseau warns.

However, you can set limits on where he can take his toy. This is to ensure that he doesn’t risk losing his favourite “friend” and also spends time away, so as to forge real friendships with his peers.

Use easy-to-understand rules such as, “comfort toy stays at home, cannot go outside”, or “comfort toy stays in the car, cannot go to the restaurant”. Rousseau advsies, “Set the limits according to the child’s age and personality.”

Whenever you see him reaching for his lovey, distract junior by keeping his hands busy with crafts, puzzles or building blocks. Otherwise, your toddler has no reason to be stuck to his comfort object for an extended period. Here are four ways junior benefits from having a non-human “pal”...