I’ve often watched young children in the neighbourhood engrossed in their fantasy world with their dolls and fluffy toys. While recently watching over my nephew riding his bike, the sound of a young child wailing grabbed my attention. Across the street this little girl was sobbing away. Her mother had grabbed away her little doll with a brief yet loud shout. The girl was around 4-5 years old. They were about to go out and the girl was insisting on taking her doll with her.
It seemed that the mother was trying to get the girl out of her emotional dependence on the doll. It did puzzle me to quite an extent on the manner in which she was trying to do so.
I had some while ago read about the subject of children and their emotional dependence on objects. The term that psychologists have given these objects Transitional security object.
Understanding Transitional Security Objects
Most common of these objects are dolls, Fluffy toys (Teddy bears, poodles) and blankets.
In fact the need of the object has found to differ amongst children.
- Some never have it
- Some cling on to it for extended periods of time
- Some change the objects over shortened periods.
These again vary from one culture to another and research has found marked differences in children who find the need for these objects in American, European and Asian countries.
Importance of the security objects has been related between the age of 2-3 years.
It helps them in coping with stress especially when no one is around.
It helps in making the transition from dependence to independence.
The child starts to feel a certain loyalty and responsibility towards the object
Parents sometimes do not comprehend the importance of the doll or the blanket. It becomes a sort of a stigma attached to children. As a result attempts are made to forcibly take away the object especially when it could be most beneficial.
Forcefully taking away the object has rarely found to work. Putting that kind of stress on children may actually make them more attached to it.
Replacing objects over shorter intervals in cases of over dependency has helped.
If the child drags the comfort object everywhere it may be better to slowly and gently establish some limits and parameters.
Rather than concentrating on how the object looks it is better to just keep the object clean.
Parents need to understand that transitional objects are a healthy aspect of childhood development and are important in the child’s emotional development. Furthermore, the children will as they grow, leave the transitional objects behind.
I can’t seem to remember how much my attachment was with my favourite Teddy. I do vaguely remember it.I know I’ve left it behind.