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Ask Dr. Sears: Love Objects

[STYLE {Q. My preschooler refuses to leave home without his favorite stuffed animal. How can I start to wean him away from it?} {SECTION}]

[STYLE {A.} {SECTION}]First, you should know that his attachment is perfectly normal. In fact, when my kids were growing up, they each had a special security object: Hayden, for instance, carried around a doll for years, while Matthew had a favorite teddy bear that gradually lost all of its fur because it never left his side. I realized that these were simply familiar objects that helped my children feel safe when they were away from home.

Like my kids, yours may feel more comfortable at preschool or a birthday party if he brings his lovey along. Don't interpret this as insecurity  -- his ability to form a strong attachment to favorite toys is a sign of developmental strength. He began by connecting with you during infancy and has branched out to his most treasured objects; eventually, like most toddlers and preschoolers, he'll probably develop more ties to people.

So you really don't need to do anything to wean your child away from his furry pal. Instead, let him drag it around. Also go ahead and talk to it as if it were real  -- and even, at times, set a place for it at the table.

When the time is right, he'll learn how to comfort himself without the help of his lovey. And once he's in kindergarten, he'll start to see fewer children walking around with a fuzzy friend and will likely leave his behind too.