How great it would be for all children and parents, if babies and toddlers were gently encouraged to have a ‘favourite’ teddy bear or doll. Both boys and girls need to learn nurturing skills and the beauty of having a ‘friend’ who is always there for them.
My three children each had one…. which they named Susan, Alexandra and Denis. They accompanied my children everywhere… in the car, to bed, for stay-overs at Grandmas, and for security when they were left with a baby-sitter.
Children don’t always select one for themselves – you can encourage it from an early age by introducing the teddy or doll, and talking about them eating with you, sleeping in the child’s bed, brushing their teeth together etc.
These favourite toys have five significant benefits:
Firstly they provide comfort and security for your child. Teddy can be cuddled when the child is scared of the thunder, or when they are missing you when they are left with a sitter. They also provide great cuddle material when they’ve fallen over and grazed their knee.
They become a companion for your child – someone to ‘talk’ with, to have pretend picnics with and even as an ally if you’ve growled at them for something.
Thirdly they can be used as part of establishing routines eg: ‘It’s time for you and teddy to get ready for now’. If the child’s not co-operating you can pretend that teddy is getting their pj’s on quicker, or that the doll is now ready for the bed-time stories. And: “Show teddy how you wash your hands after you’ve been to the toilet”.
Fourthly, dolls and teddies are great to use in role plays. When parents tell me that their child has a problem – being scared of dogs, or not liking having their hair washed, or having an issue with another child at pre-school – I often suggest using the teddy or doll to role play the situation. Children are very good at coming up with solutions when they think it’s teddy who has the problem, not themselves eg Mum or Dad pretends that teddy is telling her/ him something, which she repeats to the child…
“Teddy says he doesn’t like having his hair washed. I told him that he needs to make his hair clean, but he says he’s scared. What do you think we can do to help him?”
Children will usually come up with a creative idea – which you can later suggest back to them, for their own use!
And finally, and importantly, on those really challenging parenting days when you have tired or grumpy children, who go to bed with major melt-downs… grab the teddy, settle yourself in the comfy chair, and tell teddy all about your hard day… you’ll be surprised how much better you will feel!
A teddy bear or doll really is your child’s AND your best friend!
Cuddle your teddy and have a great parenting week!