Toddler Entourage: Transitional Objects & Toddler Development

by Meghan

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Big M has her own entourage – like a movie star or professional athlete; she has ‘people’. At first, I thought it was just my kid. I mean, I knew nearly every kid, myself included, had a security item – be it a special ‘blankie’ or teddy bear. But she has a blankie… and a ‘Tigey’… and a ‘Bunny’… and best of all, ‘Blue Towel.’  Turns out, so do a lot of toddlers.  Formally known as transitional objects, these security items are a normal stage of toddler development.


Transitional Objects & Toddler Development

How Big M’s Entourage Came to Be

We don’t allow her blankie to leave her room, mostly because I’m a germaphobe, and I had seen her older cousin’s blankie turn from a bright cheery yellow, to a dingy gray after 4 years of dragging it all over kingdom come. But these other three items come EVERYWHERE with her… to bed, downstairs to play, and since we only allow her to bring one thing with her in the car, the remaining entourage members are carefully placed on the kitchen table to await her return any time we go anywhere.

Tigey, a stuffed Daniel Tiger, was a Christmas gift when she was 2 – and it literally has not left her side since its arrival – it is usually the item selected to come in the car wherever we go. Bunny joined the group around the same time – it was a stuffed teething toy she hadn’t touched since she was 12 months old… until I put it in the basket of toys in her baby sister’s room. It instantly became a necessary part of the entourage. Blue Towel is the best part – it’s actually a blue wash rag with a felt flame sewed on to it. It was rolled and stuffed into a 1st birthday bib with a cake on it as the candle. Big M ripped it out, and initially, used it to ‘clean’. She would walk around and clean whatever surface she could reach (she has her Daddy’s neat freak tendencies, not that I’m complaining). It soon morphed into an entourage member as well. She refers to them as ‘my people’.

Entourage Tales from the Parkbench

I find the whole thing amusing, and in discussing with my fellow mommy friends, it turns out nearly all our toddlers have some version of an entourage. One of my girlfriends, her little girl is strangely attached to a plastic rock from one of her brother’s toy sets.  My personal favorite is one of Big M’s friends who is fascinated by Lowe’s home improvement manuals. He begs his parents to go to Lowe’s so he can get more – roofing brochures, snow blower flyers, lawn mower manuals. He has hordes of them and he takes them to bed with him, along with his blankie and stuffed monkey.

Psychology Behind Transitional Objects

There is some science behind this. Transitional objects are a natural stage of toddler development and provide toddlers, who are increasingly independent and exploring the world, with comfort when they are outside their comfort zones. It is healthy to set boundaries with regard to these objects – like our rule that only one can come out of the house, and that it stays in the car.

This is mostly for our own mental health – I’m pretty sure the world might end, or we would at least see the biggest meltdown of all time, if Tigey was ever left behind, lost or irretrievable.This too is a phase – and most kids grow out of it by around age 5. In the interim, my husband and I get great entertainment from her nightly corralling of her ‘people,’ and we can’t wait to see what Lil M’s entourage might become!

Does or did your toddler(s) have a transitional object? I’d love to hear what your toddler can’t live without!  If you enjoyed this post, you might also like 9 Ways to Ease Toddler Transitions.

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