Mom, where's my doll?!
When your child can't leave a favorite toy at home
Many young children, especially those younger than 3, develop attachments to favorite dolls and must bring them everywhere they go. As their parents prepare for last-minute summer vacations, sunscreen and beach towels may not be the only things topping their family's packing lists.
Bette Holtzman, Vice President of Consumer and Family Advocacy at The Goldberger Company, has some important tips for those moms and dads to keep in mind when traveling with their children's cherished dolls.
1. Consistency offers comfort: If your child has not already formed a bond with a particular doll, remember that being away from home, even on a fun trip, can be a little strange and traumatic. Caring for a doll throughout the journey could be a welcome distraction. Take along a doll that can easily fit into your child's suitcase or backpack and use it as an opportunity to help them to learn to care for their toys.
2. Make sure you have a spare: Most children have one particular-very-special-not-to-be-substituted doll that is clearly their absolute favorite. We can already anticipate the tears if this doll is accidentally left on the plane or way station restroom. If it's not too costly, you may want to purchase a replacement for this doll in case the unthinkable happens. Or, you may want to leave the "favorite" doll "safely" at home and buy an inexpensive new toy or doll just for the trip. This often stimulates new play and adds to the adventure.
3. Summer travel can be messy: Make sure to bring dolls that are easy to clean. A doll dropped on a restroom floor, or one having spent the day on the beach, might not make the perfect sleeping partner for your child. You may feel more comfortable having your child cuddle with a doll that can withstand a good scrub or even a bubble bath with your child.
4. Summer is for learning too: Educate AND entertain your child during long car or plane journeys, by bringing dolls with "Play and Learn" elements ? such as a doll that can teach your child to snap, tie, button or zip. It's also much quieter than video games or the DVD!
5. Silence is a virtue: Interactive dolls repeat and repeat and repeat songs, chatter and sounds. As you travel, be kind to neighbor passengers and yourself, by removing (temporarily) the electronic elements that cause the dolls to sing, talk or squawk.
6. We all must prepare for the TSA: Airport authorities will require your child's doll to go through security as a piece of baggage. If your child has difficulty parting with his/her favorite doll, even for a moment, prepare them for that moment in advance and build a special story about how and why the doll might be inspected or x-rayed. Allow the child to walk ahead with you, to see the doll come safely through the x-ray in its own special bin.
7. Role models don't always have to be older: Some children enjoy imitating or sharing an experience with their dolls. Why not use this in your favor and find a sun-hat or a shirt for the doll to help you convince your own child to wear a hat or shirt for protection at the beach. A bathing doll might help address bath-time in a strange bathtub on the road, and a doll's nightwear could get your own child into their pajamas in record time, even when facing a new bed in an unfamiliar room. Of course this means you have to keep track of the doll's packable wardrobe, along with the rest of the family's ? so make a list of doll clothes brought along!
Bette Holtzman has been a family therapist and children's advocate for more than twenty five years. She is Vice President of Consumer and Family Advocacy for the Goldberger Company, a 91-year-old family owned and operated toy company that specializes in toys for children aged 0 to 3.