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Losing a Lovey

The stuffed teddy bear your child has slept with, carted around, and loved the fur off of has gone missing. Maybe you're relieved to be rid of it, in all its stained and threadbare glory, but your child is heartbroken. "A security object is so important at this age because it helps kids feel safe," says Linda Goldman, a Chevy Chase, MD, therapist. "It soothes them at bedtime and helps them keep up their routine when away from home."

Another scary part of being a toddler: Kids start seeing themselves as separate from their parents, and losing a lovey may trigger a child's fear of being abandoned herself. To help ease her worries, Goldman suggests these tips:

Let her know it's okay to feel bad. Before rushing out to buy a new stuffed animal or toy, tell her, "I know how much you loved Teddy. You must be very sad." (Then you can go out to get a new one!)

Help her say goodbye. Create a story about what might have happened to Teddy. He couldn't find you, so maybe he got on a boat and became a sailor! Imagining the adventures Teddy may be having can help ease the hurt a bit.

Let her choose another friend. A new security pal can ease your child's loss, but even weeks (or months) later don't be surprised if she still cries for Teddy. "The new lovey doesn't replace the old one," says Goldman. "But it helps her feel safe and restores routine in her life again."

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