The Benefits of Playing with Teddy Bears
January 12, 2015  |  Written by Carlota Nelson

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.


Learning to Express themselves

Two and three year olds get easily frustrated and end up having temper tantrums because they still haven’t figured out why their emotions can become so intense. Just like doctor Phil Donahue suggests, children through role-playing, learn to manage their emotions and it allows them to communicate their own feelings.

As parents, we can help our children manage their emotions even better thanks to their teddy bear or favourite stuffed animal. If your daughter cries whenever you leave or when you take her to kindergarten, try to reinact those moments at home. Take her teddy bear and pretend he or she has to go to kindergarten. You can say something along the lines of: “What´s the matter, teddy bear? Why are you crying?” Encourage your daughter to answer for her stuffed toy and make her see that kindergarten isn’t that bad. There are nice teachers and plenty of activities, toys and other children to play with. “You´ll be home soon and can share all the fin things you did today with me.”  Make sure she sees the positive side of things and have her reassure her “sad” teddy bear. That way, she´ll have the necessary tools to apply them to herself.

Learning to socialize

Stuffed toys offer children the chance to practice their social skills. Use their favourite stuffed toy to underline important issues such as taking turns, empathizing with others and sharing. Pretend you are at a birthday party for example. “The cake should be divided so everyone has a piece. If not, teddy bear will be sad or even get angry. It´s not fair that some people have cake and others don´t, right?”

Did you know that playing with teddy bears had so many benefits? Which stuffed animal is your children´s favourite?

Photo Credits: Famosa

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