How much time has passed since your preschooler last clung to a teddy bear? Find out how to say goodbye to your child’s comfort object!

A child’s first encounter with the world outside of her lovey is often in preschool or kindergarten. Pediatricians recommend this weaning method because it causes your child the least amount of distress.

Make sure you’re on the ball with the timing. 

Before starting daycare or preschool, don’t try to take away a child’s comfort object such as a favorite teddy bear or cuddly toy.

Losing a loved one will further heighten your child’s anxiety and apprehension. You can begin preparing your child for school in the spring or early summer if they are starting in September.

Explain the “breakup” in detail.

Observe the constant “why? why? why?” chanting of preschoolers, and you’ll see that they demand an answer for everything. So, if you want your child to say goodbye to a beloved bunny, offer them a reason.

Say what you want, but “Bunny may have to leave the house now that you’re in high school. She will wait for you when you get back, so don’t worry about it.”

To ease the sorrow of saying goodbye, you can have her put her stuffed animal into bed before leaving the house or tie it to the car seat when she’s left off at preschool.

Take it one step at a time. 

Keep the comfort object at home and in the car, but no comfort toy is allowed in the store or park.

Alternatively, if your child insists on bringing his blankie to school, try to develop a solution that you can agree upon. For a week, have him carry it about with him and keep it in his cubby during the day. Once he’s proven he can function without it, advise he leave it at home.

It’s also a good idea to stress out the danger of your youngster losing their lovey if they take it outside. Using a star chart can also serve as a motivational tool: Each day your child does not bring his or her lovey to school, reward them with a star and a small item at the end of the week.

Provide an alternative. 

Others are happy with a message, family portrait, locket, or watch as substitutes for their beloved toys, such as a puppy or kitten. Even if these aren’t cuddly or smell good like a plush animal, they might help your youngster cope with separation anxiety.

Or, if your child clings to a blanket, see if you can tear it into smaller and smaller bits with her help. Some children find comfort in simply carrying a square of their favorite cloth around with them.

Treat it as a joke. 

Your youngster should not be punished or humiliated for holding on to a lovey. If he becomes even more devoted to it, you could be setting yourself up for a power battle. Remember all the great jocks who wear their lucky old socks to games if your macho husband gets offended when your youngster carries a bear to a baseball game.

Expect regression. 

Don’t be startled or angry if your child seeks solace in a favorite toy after a traumatic event, like the death of a grandmother or the arrival of a new sibling. She’ll be more receptive to letting go once the crisis has passed so that you may restart the weaning process.