Seventy per cent of parents have passed down their childhood cuddly toys to their own children, research finds
In an age when tech dominates many children’s wish lists, the humble cuddly toy may be expected to take a bit of a bruising.
How much purchase can a weathered stuffed animal wield in a world populated by drones, video games and smartphones?
Indeed, the former may well have been cast aside in favour of shinier gadgets in recent years.
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But it turns out that the good, old-fashioned cuddly toy hasn’t had its stuffing knocked out after all.
In fact, recent research points to British adults still carrying a torch for their childhood toys.
Seventy per cent of parents developed such a strong attachment to their childhood cuddly toys that they have passed them down to their own children, according to a survey of 2,000 Brits from eco-friendly toy brand Living Nature.
Men are more likely to bestow their childhood soft toys upon their offspring, with almost three quarters (73 per cent) passing them onto their children, compared with 67 per cent of female parents.
Anyone whose child or charge’s happiness is entwined with the survival of their favourite teddy knows to their peril the consequences of it going missing in action.
Who hasn’t felt their stomach drop on discovering said toy is no longer in the clutches of their little one’s hand but probably lying stranded in an elusive gutter?
From stalking the streets armed only with hope and torchlight, to frantically scouring the internet for an urgent replacement, the pursuit of Special Toy Lost knows no bounds
.But why is it that children become so attached to their stuffed toys in the first place?
Here's why children love their cuddly toys
“Children develop feelings of empathy over the course of their childhood, as they interact with the world and form relationships with others,” said Lee Chambers, child psychologist and well-being expert.
“Some of the most formative friendships children have are with their cuddly toys.
“These toys can bring a greater sense of security when moving through life stages or challenging events. The external circumstances change but the toy remains the same, producing a secure anchor to transition from.
“Furthermore, stuffed animals have been known to help with securing attachments and even rebuilding impaired attachment bonds. These bonds play a significant role in mental well-being, reported happiness and quality of life.”
More than two thirds of parents would prefer for their child to play with soft toys over electrical gadgets.
And when quizzed why, more than half (57 per cent) said that soft toys inspire a wider and more vivid imagination, while 58 per cent said that it’s easier to find a soft toy tailored to their child’s interests.
The benefits of children playing with soft toys reach far beyond simple and imaginative entertainment.
“We know from a variety of studies that petting animals can reduce cortisol in humans, lower blood pressure and heart rate, ultimately relieving stress and promoting calmness,” said Lee.
“Touching a stuffed toy, especially when faced with a significant fear, can provide similar soothing benefits according to research; creating more comfort and calmness, especially in those with lower self-esteem.
“The majority of studies agree that children are more likely to be compassionate and empathetic if they have healthy attachments and a clearer sense of self and non-self.
“Giving your child a soft toy can be a hugely positive tool in helping your child to understand and be sensitive to the moods and needs of others.”
Given the uncertainty of the past two years brought on by the pandemic, it’s understandable that so many grown-ups seem reluctant to part with their cherished childhood toys - instead passing them onto their children.
Perhaps there are benefits for us all to snuggle up with that long-lost teddy bear.