An Expert Explains Why Some of Us Are Attached to Stuffed Animals

Chances are, you've had a stuffed animal at some point in your life.

But the question is, do you still have it? And even more importantly, do you still rely on it? If you do, it's nothing to be embarrassed about—there are many of us out there that have one. This got us curious about the why, so we spoke with Jennifer Tomko, LCSW and owner of Clarity Health Solutions, about those who are attached to their stuffed animals. She let us in on the four roles a stuffed animal plays in our lives as children, and four more reasons we might keep it during teen and adult years.

Keep reading for our full interview with Jennifer to find out why some of us are attached to our stuffed animals:

Why are children attached to stuffed animals?

1. Bonding

A child learns to bond through the stuffed animal. They often believe that the stuffed animal needs them as much as they need it. They aren't able to express this, but they know that they don't feel safe without having the animal with them.

– Jennifer Tomko

 

2. Self-Soothing

The child is learning to self-soothe. An adult can't be present at all times and they may seem unpredictable to a child. The "friend" they carry with them is predictable and always present. Some children develop imaginary friends to fill this need, but much of it is to feel a sense of safety in the face of uncertainty.

– Jennifer Tomko


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3. Companionship

The stuffed animal is always at the child's developmental level, making it the perfect companion for a tea party or an adventure. If a child doesn't have a lovey, sometimes they'll develop imaginary friends. They serve the same purpose.

– Jennifer Tomko

 

4. Unconditional Love

The predictable nature of the relationship with a stuffed animal allows a child to experience unconditional love. When a child is being reprimanded by the parent, they aren't feeling love. They're thinking in black and white, so they may temporarily question if they are loved. The child feels love from the stuffed animal regardless of the reprimand happening. This is helpful so that they continue to feel emotionally stable and learn to trust that they can get through a stressful moment without feeling complete rejection.

– Jennifer Tomko

 

Why do some of us still feel an attachment to our stuffed animals in our teen and adult years?

1. Memories:

As we age and mature, many people still hold a special place in their heart for their favorite stuffed animal. It brings back fond memories of their childhood. Perhaps a simpler time when they were carefree.

– Jennifer Tomko

 

2. They're a Reminder of a Loved One:

A stuffed animal can also be associated with the person who gave it to you or the setting or situation you received it in. If you were gifted a stuffed animal by a loved one who has passed or you don't see often, snuggling the toy could remind you of that person.

– Jennifer Tomko


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3. Joy

If you were given the stuffed animal when you were feeling ill or sad, it brought you joy and will bring you joy for all eternity.

– Jennifer Tomko

 

4. Security

People in relationships feel safe and secure when they're in physical contact with and embraced by a romantic partner, but for people who are single, a stuffed animal can serve as a cuddle buddy.

– Jennifer Tomko

 

Don't have a stuffed animal? Click HERE to find out how to get your hands on a stuffed animal that looks just like your real pet.