As children, we all had our own favourite toy. Whether it was a train, a doll or a teddy bear, that particular toy joined us in our games and fed our imaginations. Today, toys might come in different shapes but our children, just like us, always end up choosing that special toy, that inseparable friend who they can speak to, who listens to them and goes wherever they do. Curiously, the majority of children choose stuffed animals, usually in the form of a teddy bear or a dog, as their favourite friend. Through them, children can express emotions and feelings they cannot otherwise do with words. Today we will explore the benefits of playing with teddy bears and how we can further enhance our children´s experience as parents.
Just as we suggested in our post titled: “Why are toys important for childhood development”, children learn by playing and toys are the tools that allow them to understand the world they live in. But stuffed animals have certain advantages over other types of toys. Allan Gansher, a play theorist and founder of Kids Inc., points out that children, knowing stuffed animals represent something real, feel identified and helps them explore their more complex emotions.
Learning to Separate
One of the things younger children fear most is separating themselves from their parents. Thanks to stuffed animals, their vulnerability decreases. Randye F. Huron, director of the Institute of Childhood Development of the Hackensack University Medical Centre suggests we encourage our children to play with their teddy bears at least 10 to 15 minutes, several times a day. This will not only improve their self-esteem but the very touch and feel of these toys reduces stress, regulates their blood pressure and generates endorphins. Last but not least, playing with teddy bears evokes a sense of peace, security and comfort.
Learning new skills
By playing with teddy bears, children can practise the skills they learn. When it comes time to brushing their teeth or getting dressed, for example, 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. Just as we pointed out in this post, role-playing is a key ingredient in their learning process because they begin to understand the world they live in by playing.