CHILDREN HAVE “MAGICAL” FRIENDS: COMFORTERS
You often see children immersed in a magical, fantasy world where instead of sofas there are huge, colourful waterfalls and instead of toys there are castles and dragons. They have a creativity that many adults envy and that gives them access to a reality that is sometimes incomprehensible but rich in meaning. Every age group has its own way of talking about itself, telling its feelings and expressing itself.
Children often leave the house and walk down the street accompanied by faithful companions such as blankets or toys, and parents can struggle to understand this strange affection. It is important to highlight that there is nothing strange about this behaviour, actually it is very normal. These companions in the child's everyday life actually have a specific name: transitional objects. They have a very important function, namely, to provide protection and transmit security to the child when he or she faces the outside world. For them it's like having their mum and dad's hand with them.
We often ask ourselves how a child can decide to take a toy out with them, and the answer is easy: they use their instinct. The first times they go out, for an afternoon or morning with the grandparents, they choose a toy, an object or a piece of clothing that makes them feel close to their parents. By doing this, if they feel sad or worried, they will just need to hold their magical friend tight and they will immediately feel “at home”, in their safe place. The magic that this object holds, in a child’s mind, gives him or her infinite power and so is able to do everything and help them in any moment.
The need to feel safe and to have something to remind them of home or mum and dad is not to be seen negatively by the parents. It does not mean that they feel abandoned or that they are looking for someone to replace the parents, but it is a normal self-awareness typical of every child's journey.
Everyone is afraid when they find themselves in a new situation for the first time or when they do not feel fully at ease, adults and children alike. Everyone also has their own way of regaining serenity in moments when courage is failing. The choice of a transitional object allows children to understand that there is nothing wrong with facing the world and that the strength they previously found in a teddy bear or a blanket, when they are ready, they will find it within themselves, perhaps thanks to the words of their mum and dad.
For this reason, it is important not to put pressure on the child to remove this object. There is no point in judging, criticising or making fun of it. Just make them feel understood and listened to. When they are convinced that they are understood by their parents and are ready to face the world with courage, they will let go.
The important thing, therefore, is to be understanding and give it time. There is no need to worry that they might be made fun of by other children or people because this is their way of expressing themselves and by understanding this gesture, they will also understand it better. This is one of the first moments to make your child understand that they can be whatever they want to be and that they are free to express themselve, confident in the knowledge that their parents will understand them no matter what.