Some Toddlers Treat Books As Comfort Items — Experts Explain Why
A stuffed animal or baby doll helps calm some kids down in times of stress and trouble. My child specifically carries round a book as a comfort item — it doesn't even have to be read to him; he just loves to carry one around. Why is that?
Katie Lear, licensed clinical mental health counselor who works with families, explains that a toddler who carries around a book may be using it as emotional support for a few reasons. “A transitional object is something that a child uses as a sort of stand-in for a parent to comfort them during stressful moments, particularly when a parent isn't available,” she tells Romper.
Ana Sokolovic, licensed psychologist and life coach at Parenting Pod, compares this to Linus’ blanket on the Peanuts — it’s an object that helps with separation. “Toddlers go through the process of learning that the temporary absence of their primary caregiver does not mean that they are forever left without them. A book is therefore a symbol of the adult’s presence that a child can hold on to when they are alone or needing an adult,” Sokolovic says.
Some kids even associate books with their parent’s soft, soothing reading voices, Sokolovic says, so it's no wonder a child would find comfort and joy in a title that Mom or Dad has read to him. Or certain titles may remind them of playtime or the "calm hours of bedtime when they are tucked in, told stories and cuddled until they fall asleep," she explains.
And no, it's not odd that your kid's "security blanket" isn't, well, a blanket or even their favorite toy. “Toddlers can be fascinated by all sorts of non-toy items," says Lear, adding that they have some sort of "magnetic appeal to little kids.” It's also a positive sign that your toddler is interested in books. “Maybe your child has an early love of words and verbal learning, or maybe your child often sees you reading and wants to emulate you,” Lear says.
Does this mean my child and other book-toting toddlers will become avid readers (or perhaps even writers) when they grow up? Sokolovic says we can't tell for sure what it means for their future, but parents of book-loving toddlers who reinforce their little one's habit by buying more books and reading together is undeniably a good thing. "Reading becomes a building block of their young identity," she says. What parent doesn't want that for their child?
Katie Lear, licensed clinical mental health counselor who works with parents and kids