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The benefits of Transitional Objects

It is that time of the year when our new academic calendar begins and parents are about to embark on their journey at a preschool along with their toddler.

This can be an unsettling period for both the parent and the child and requires a period of adjustment. As a parent, I remember wanting the settling-in phase to be done with yesterday. As an educator, I get asked the same question every year, “How long will my child take to settle in?”  I wish the answer was as simple as the question.  Each child is unique and takes their own time.  We can only help with the transition phase by easing their separation anxiety and comforting the child.

My son had a little stuffed rabbit toy called Peter who slept with him day and night.  Peter was part of our family and accompanied my son to nursery on his first day. Knowing that Peter was going to be with him provided comfort and security in the transition process from the familiar to the unfamiliar.  Attachments to such specific items are known as transitional objects.  These objects allow children to have some consistency and predictability in unknown situations.

It can be very beneficial to introduce a comfort object to provide a sense of security and stability to the child. They can be helpful while settling in children to nursery and school, and in other situations when you are trying to wean your toddler off the bottle or a pacifier, transitioning from a crib to a bed or even while moving homes.

These objects should be small in size, light, replaceable and easy to wash such as a stuffed toy, object, blanket or bottle.  Parents often worry their child will get too attached to their object however as children get older, they become more socially aware of their surroundings and realise that they would rather not walk around with a teddy at school. They start leaving their objects at home and gradually give up the habit themselves.

My son’s stuffed rabbit was his best friend and companion during the nursery transition phase, and I was content in knowing he had a familiar object from home with him. Please do not hesitate in sending your child’s comfort toy to nursery with them: you just might be surprised as to how it would help your child’s transition into an early years’ environment.

Monica Valrani