The Importance of Play for Children

We All Need A Cuddly Toy

teddyI was out with my son the other day and I got dragged into a toy store with him, and we were looking at all the usual toys which are our flavor of the month, until one day he decides it isn’t. However, whilst we were standing there one section caught my eye, there was a whole section dedicated to various cuddly toys. I was amazed because really you don’t see them often, usually, toy shops are dedicated mainly to plastic toys with a section for wooden toys, and another for books.

I was amazed to see this wall of teddies. My son also noticed this, and he took some time to cuddle a few. We didn’t end up buying a cuddly toy. However, my son may love his new plastic toy, however at the end of the day it’s his cuddly toys which he takes to bed, it’s his cuddly toy that follows him around. It’s his cuddly toy that has outlived all his plastic

Children are ‘programmed’ to love cuddly toys

When you consider that fact that even as adults when all our over childhood toys are packed up in boxes or long gone, most of us would have still saved our childhood bear/ cuddly toy. I still have two of my mine. They have followed me since I was a small child, and they still continue to follow me.

My son has his favorite bear, the one who is special, the one who has probably seen the most. He also has a couple of secondary favorite cuddly toys, who haven’t seen quite so much but they still get pride of place at bedtime.

Attachments to cuddly toys can be explained by science. Scientist have explained that cuddly toys are a form of ‘transitional object’, a group of objects which help us channel our emotions. The small act of cuddling a teddy bear will help relieve stress, we are programmed to seek out comfort. As adults, we can ‘control’ our emotions without comfort, but children are still learning too, and teddies provide children with a tool to help them learn.

Quite often teddies will be one of the first comfort objects a child has away from their parents.girl bear

Teddies are far more than transitional objects

Transitional objects are generally objects which serve the purpose of providing comfort in the absence of the main source of comfort. In the case of a child, this will be providing comfort when a parent is unable to. However, the soothing effect if cuddly toys survive far beyond our childhood, long after we learn to soothe ourselves without needing our parents or comfort objects.

This is because children (and adults) can form a lifelong emotional attachment to these objects in the same way that they have also built lifelong relationships. In a sense, the cuddly toys can take on a life of their own and become a lifelong companion. This is why we find it hard to ‘dispose’ of our childhood teddy because they are no longer an object, they become a friend.

If you think about it, it makes sense because our cuddly toys would have been through a lot with us. They would have been there whilst we were waiting for our parents to get to us, they would have been there late at night when we were frightened of monsters, they would have been there when we hurt our knee, or our friend stopped talking to us.

They would have been there when we were heartbroken, bereaved, stressed, or anxious. Our cuddly friends would have been there throughout it all.comfort

So why a teddy?

Cuddly toys are the perfect lifelong companion for a lot of reasons beyond being soft and, well, cuddly.

Cuddly toys encourage nurturing behavior in the same way that toy dolls do. They are almost screaming to be picked up and looked after. However, because of their softness, you get the bonus of nurturing yourself in a way which you won’t quite get with a plastic doll. It is almost like you are getting cuddled back.

Cuddly toys are also quite durable and low maintenance. They won’t easily break, they won’t run out of batteries, they will generally stand the test of time. If they do break, they are easy to fix. Cuddly toys are also one of those toys that you can leave on a shelf or a bed and you can be certain that they will still be there, in good working condition, when you get back.boy bear

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