As children make their first transition in life— that is, separating from their mother and easing into the world around them—comfort objects can offer a sense of constancy. To a small child, these objects provide reassurance and security. Often used as a type of stress relief, the habit of carrying around a well-worn teddy bear becomes an anchor of sorts, much in the way a daily routine imparts a sense of contentment for adults.
Back in the 1950’s, an English psychiatrist and pediatrician named Donald Winnicott invented the term “transitional object,” making reference to the toys and blankets children become attached to—a treasured article with a special emotional value.
One study showed object attachment occurs most frequently in Western countries with a rate as high as 60 percent, noting that teddy bears are the most popular comfort object among toddlers.
Understanding the importance of teddy bears in children’s lives, there are website registries devoted to reuniting stuffed animals with their tiny owners. There are also heart-warming stories like the one where an airline worker found a beloved toy and took it on a short adventure before returning it to a grateful child.
Try It: Teddy Bear Comfort Poetry
Did you have a special teddy bear that never left your side as a child? Maybe you know a child who’s attached to a well-loved and worn teddy? Write a poem telling a story of one child’s teddy bear— that child could be you! Write about the adventures had and how the teddy bear soothed and provided comfort.
Reminiscing over the collection of Bears & Beasts poetry we’ve read, here is one from Rick we enjoyed (and made us a little teary-eyed):
Winkie The Bear
It didn’t matter that he had one eye.
He called to me from the highest shelf,
but the sales clerk wouldn’t let me buy,
she said, I can’t, he only has one eye.
He seemed so sad, it made me cry,
that little brown bear all by himself.
It didn’t matter that he had one eye,
with the broken toys on the highest shelf
—by Rick Maxson
Photo by Mike Boswell. Creative Commons via Flickr.
How to Write a Poem uses images like the buzz, the switch, the wave—from the Billy Collins poem “Introduction to Poetry”—to guide writers into new ways of writing poems. Excellent teaching tool. Anthology and prompts included.
“How to Write a Poem is a classroom must-have.”
—Callie Feyen, English Teacher, Maryland