My friend’s 4-year-old son had his first induction day at his new school recently. He was reluctant to go into the classroom and things seemed to get worse from there. The teacher told him that he was not allowed to bring his beloved teddy ‘Mr. Snuggles’ into the classroom. My friend felt that this would only make things more difficult as she was struggling already to get him used to the idea of starting school in September. When she relayed the story over coffee to me, I felt that the teacher was probably misguided. Many people believe that when children start school, they need to leave their teddies at home as this is part of growing up. However, starting school is an important transition for children and teddies and security blankets can help children manage that transition more easily.
Parents may worry that if they allow their child to bring their teddy or other favourite toy to school in the first few weeks that their child will never be able to leave it at home. However, your child will realise at some point that they don’t need their special comforter with them at school anymore. On the other hand, in the early days of settling into a new school, comforters are useful items to help your child deal with the changes and increasing independence. Litt (1986) found that children who used security blankets or teddies were more independent and more self-confident. Children use these objects to soothe themselves when they are feeling anxious and upset, which can only be a good thing. Security blankets and teddies also allow children to comfort themselves when separated from their parents.
I am pleased that the new school my son is going to go to in September is having a ‘bring your teddy day’ at the beginning of the year. They obviously don’t feel that it is a problem for children to bring their teddies to school when they start. Another friend of mine said that they even have a special teddy corner at her daughter’s new school. So it seems that some schools do recognise the importance of transition objects but unfortunately not every school.
- Why we should focus on children’s emotional intelligence not IQ (psychologymum.wordpress.com)