When Is It Time To Take Away The Teddy Bears

When you have a new baby, there are always certain gifts which you can guarantee that someone within your family or friendship group will buy for them. Someone will buy them a romper suit that’s two sizes too big for them. You’ll also probably receive a set of pacifiers in garish colors, or a book to write down all of their important ‘firsts’ in (like you didn’t have one yourself). Then there will be a more welcome gift – someone will buy your baby a beautiful teddy bear, and your child will fall in love with it.

There are few things in life cuter than a child with a teddy bear. They look adorable together on photographs, and they’re an excellent sleeping aid. A very small child who won’t go to sleep unless they’re clinging on to you can slowly be weaned off onto a teddy bear. So long as their favorite stuffed toy is in their cot or bed with them, you can rest assured that they’ll cuddle up to it and drift off, allowing you to get some hard-earned peace of your own. Often, a teddy bear is a child’s first ‘best friend’ and constant travel companion. They won’t go anywhere without it, which is sometimes inconvenient, but at the same time, they’re more likely to be calm and content when the teddy bear is around.

We associate teddy bears with being young. Teddy bears fit into the same category as comfort blankets, in that they’re there to give an infant a sense of warmth and security that a parent can’t be expected to give twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. As a child gets older and learns to stand on its own two feet (literally as well as metaphorically), they’re expected to give their teddy bear away or put it back in the cupboard, as part of the process of moving on to more ‘adult’ things. That doesn’t always happen, though. In England, almost a third of all university students take their favorite teddy bear with them when they leave home for the first time. So is that wrong? Should their parents be stepping in at an earlier age and taking the teddy bear away? Or would that do more harm than good?

Strong Furry Bonds

In among all the cuteness of teddy bears, what many people fail to understand when they give their child a bear is that they’re also creating a psychological connection between the child and the bear (or equivalent soft toy). The bear might just be a cuddly toy to you, but to the still-forming mind of your child, it’s a replacement for a parent when the parent isn’t nearby. Teddy bears are one of the most common of all the transitional items that may be in our homes, and to take it off a child too early would be to destroy the child’s sense of safety in its environment.

By the time you have a teenager or a young adult on your hands, you’d like to think they have enough comfort in themselves not to need such an item, but that would be to underestimate how strong these bonds sometimes are. If you want evidence of this out in the adult world, you need to look no further than UK online slots websites like Lion Wins. Choose any of the major ones, and you’ll find one of the most popular slots available is called ‘Fluffy Favourites’ – an online slots game in the UK which is based on cuddly toys coming to life. We consider gambling to be an adult hobby, but if the people who make slots can make money from using cuddly toys as a theme, then what does that tell us about our own subliminal connection to these items?

It’s not just the world of slots we see this with, either. The inventors of the popular adult cartoon ‘Family Guy’ have made millions of dollars with a pair of movies based on the adventures of a bear called ‘Ted,’ a stuffed bear who has magically come to life, and now follows his owner around on a series of hilarious but distinctly non-PG escapades. The moves are R rated. Children wouldn’t be able to get in to see them. They’re not the intended audience for the movie; we are, as adults.

Let Nature Take Its Course

If teddy bears can persuade us to part with our money at the cinema, or when playing slots, then how can we write them off as trinkets of childhood? How can we say that we should expect a child to grow out of playing with teddy bears by a certain age if there are so many of us still interacting with them as adults? Even if you do think they’re childish, are they doing any harm? Does owning a teddy bear as a young (or older) adult make a person less charming, or sophisticated, or talented? Does it make them in any way inferior to you? Of course it doesn’t. Teddy bears are a multi-billion dollar industry, and children don’t have that kind of money to spend. It’s adults who are buying into them, and that definitely means that they’re not just for our children.

You may have had your teddy bear taken off you when you reached ten years old. You may even have done it yourself to one of your own children, and neither you nor they may be any worse off for it. That doesn’t mean it has to happen, though. As a teddy bear is a confidence booster and a provider of security, a child will only volunteer to give them up when they no longer feel they need them. If that point never arrives, then the situation is unlikely to be improved by forcing them to part with it.

The answer to the question of ‘when is it time to take away the teddy bears’ is ‘never.’ If you’re even considering taking your child’s away, perhaps it’s time you bought one of your own, and re-discovered your cuddly side! There are many things we need to keep a careful eye on when it comes to the development of our children, from physical growth to intellectual understanding and achievement. Whether or not they’re still playing with cuddly toys shouldn’t even come into the equation.

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