Transitions always have their challenges. Kids find comfort in familiarity and routine, meaning that any change can have a large impact on their ability to function. Whether struggling with the typical worries or those created by heightened restrictions and uncertainties from Covid-19, transitional objects play an important role in reducing anxiety.
Perhaps you remember the blankie or favorite stuffed animal your kids had as babies. We know that these types of transitional objects help infants shift toward greater independence. When their parents return to work or are not around for a period of time the transitional object is a source of comfort and familiarity, often providing reassurance that their parents will return. Many think these objects are only meant for very young children and hope their kids will outgrow them. On the contrary, studies show that transitional objects serve the same important function regardless of age; as people get older, though, they express their attachment more in language and sometimes attach more purpose to the object.
How to Incorporate Fidgets
Packing a “transitional backpack” for your child to take to school can drastically reduce the anxiety that comes along with the change. Kids can draw comfort from knowing that their favorite toy or small blanket is nearby.
Try including a family photo in your child’s folder for easy access, so that if they feel sad or lonely they can look at it and feel comforted.
Sometimes the olfactory sense can be triggered to have a calming effect on kids. Spray a little bit of your perfume or Dad’s cologne on a piece of paper to send with your child for a bit of a familiar scent while at school.
Fidget tools are also great for self-soothing. Using a quiet, non-distracting tool often keeps kids’ fingers busy, allowing them to focus better on the task at hand or to use when they are required to remain seated and quiet for long periods of time. Heavy fidgets, like the Weighted Fidget Lizard, provide deep pressure input, which sends signals from the muscles to the brain to remain calm.
Certain types of soft tactile input have a very calming effect on kids. This is why many kids are attracted to soft stuffed animals and blankets because of their soothing material. Soft Fidget Bracelets mimic the sensation of a plush toy.
Repetitive motion also suppresses fear arousal, and instead promotes calm while keeping kids alert . Running their fingers back and forth on the Super Calming Fidget is a perfect way to self-soothe at their desks.
By packing a kit full of fidgets and transitional objects for your child, you set them up for successful self-regulation throughout their day, an important step in development and participation at school. Discuss ways to incorporate fidgets into your child’s time at school or home without disrupting classmates. Check in with teachers to ensure that use of the transitional objects is supported, enabling your child to have the easiest transition they can!