My first gift for my five-month-old niece was a small gray stuffed elephant. Given my amateur gift-giving skills, I chose a toy that is harmless, non-toxic, and will not be accidentally swallowed by a curious tiny human. I figured my safest bet would be a stuffed animal, and, I admit I bought it because I found it cute.
As an adult, we think about buying new babies stuffed toys, which are cute and soft. However, did you know that it has educational benefits for kids too? A stuffed animal could be a source of comfort for a child, a playmate, or their first real friend.
Parents give their children toys to keep them entertained and preoccupied. You know the type, a toy that squeaks, play songs, rattles, or something they can cuddle with. However, for a toddler, it becomes more than that. According to Psychology Today, these simple toys become a child's transitional object.
What is a transitional object?
The New York University Psychoanalytic Institute defines a transitional object as, "typifying a phase in a child's development; as a defense against separation anxiety; and, lastly, as a neutral sphere in which experience is not challenged." A pet toy or teddy bear turns into a personified instrument of self-expression, which children utilize at home or in school.
The term "transitional object" was coined by Donald Woods Winnicott, an English pediatrician, and psychoanalyst, in 1951. He said that it is "a designation for any material to which an infant attributes a special value and by means of which the child is able to make the necessary shift from the earliest oral relationship with mother to genuine object-relationships." It represents how your child will interact with and maintain human relationships.
Let us explain this further by enumerating the benefits of pet toys, teddy bears, dolls, a.k.a. transitional objects, below.
Benefits of Transitional Objects
Here are the benefits of transitional objects such as teddy bears or pet toys:
Helps develop social skills
How can an inanimate object, much less a toy, help a child get along with others? Kids start their first social bond while playing with a favorite pet toy or stuffed animal. It offers them friendship and companionship. Yep, pet toys or dolls are your child's first real friends even though they're not real people.
It all starts when your child begins exhibiting pretend play with their toys like holding a tea party or a picnic with them. Their pet toy will act as the host of the party, giving their guests food and drinks. Or merely a guest that will interact or socialize with other stuffed toys.
Promotes language development
Sometimes I caught my little niece producing babbling noises in front of a stuffed toy. It seems like she is talking to the elephant toy. It is a hilarious and adorable scene to witness, but did you know that this helps in speeding up language development?
Stuffed toys or pet toys are great audiences for a kid who is still learning how to communicate. It won't judge them and will listen to them attentively while they "talk." It improves a child's speech and language skills by allowing them to freely express their thoughts and feelings in front of their stuffed animals.
Reduces separation anxiety and loneliness
As much as you want to be around your child all the time, it is impossible because you need to get things done around the house or go to work. This is where their silent friend, a teddy bear or stuffed animal, enters the picture. It helps your child alleviate loneliness and stress while you are away. Stuffed toys provide much-needed comfort and companionship to help ease their anxiety and distress.
Child psychologist Paul Donahue, Ph.D., tells Parents that children tend to freak out when left alone. But their fear lessens when they have a stuffed toy or teddy bear beside them. He said, "Dolls and stuffed animals can help toddlers cope with separation anxiety."
For babies and preschoolers, the big world could be a vast and intimidating place. What more if no adult is supervising them? Pet toys help kids cope with these intense emotions because they portray familiarity, comfort, and reassurance without a parent or adults' help.
Perfect Petzzz: A cuddly teaching tool for kids of all ages
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Perfect Petzzz also offers the same real pet ownership experience as living pets without the hassles and expenses like vet bills. It can help your child's social, emotional, and mental development.
Moreover, this alternative pet helps plant seeds of compassion and empathy inside the tiny heart of your child. They will take care of it by brushing its fur or singing it a lullaby to put it into sleep. It also teaches them to be responsible pet owners in the future.
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