Stuffed animal science

Written by: Claire Phillips | Entertainment Editor

Stuffed animals have been a childhood staple since the late 1800s. They provide limitless opportunities for creation and imagination for young minds, in addition to being a soft, cozy toy. The joy plush toys bring to people doesn’t have to be confined to one’s childhood — they can provide psychological assistance throughout your entire life.

For children, stuffed animals are tools that can help regulate tactile sensory skills and act as a “friend” to promote security. Especially for neurodivergent folks, these benefits may carry on into adulthood. However, carrying around a stuffed animal as a twenty-something or above is not as socially accepted as a toddler.

Let’s face it — adults are more likely to have chronic stressors as opposed to adolescents. So what is the harm in practicing whatever self-care skills we can to regulate our mental health? A lot of adults these days, especially college students, could also still learn a thing or two about sensory regulation.

Additionally, the way we play with stuffed animals as a child may play a role in shaping our social and emotional development. Engaging with these toys may help children practice empathy and communication, while providing a safe space for them to express their feelings. These are critical skills that are used in everyday adult life, such as at work, school or in personal relationships.

I’m not looking to start a trend or anything, but it is exciting to watch young adults continue to enjoy things that once made them happy. Jellycats, Squishmallows and those weighted dinosaurs from Target have, in my opinion, been popularized by teenagers and adults more than children — their original intended audience.

The moral of the story is, at the end of the day, if you still love snuggling up with your teddy bear at night, don’t let anyone stop you. Take your favorite soft stuffie to your upcoming doctor’s appointment. Keep a small support friend in your bag for a job interview or a final exam. They are still cheering you on, every step of the way.

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