Three-year-old Glynn rubs a little piece of his favorite baby blanket on his face and ears if something upsets him or he wants to relax. Because this is Glynn's first experience in child care, his "tickle" is a very important comfort object. Its soothing feel and smell offer a connection to home, which helps to make his transition to the new school environment less threatening.
Special attachments to comfort items, such as Glynn's blanket or a favorite stuffed animal, often help to reassure or bolster preschoolers in their efforts to become more self-confident as they take steps toward being independent in various new situations.
Creatures of Habit
Nearly all 3 year olds have a special connection to certain objects, blankets, toys, and especially books or stories. With your little one's favorite storybook, first you'll read it over and over, never altering the words or skipping a page without her calling you out on your "mistake." But as she gets older and trusts her knowledge of the story's details, she'll boldly add new twists — like a big bad hippo instead of a wolf.
Similarly, a preschooler may seem to be attached to a special place. A puzzle whiz, 4-year-old Emily always starts off her school day at the puzzle table. Three-year-old Daniel goes right to his cubby when he feels threatened. Eventually, when they become more confident in themselves and comfortable with their new classmates, Emily and Daniel will change their routines.
Around this time, preschoolers also make special connections with playmates and teachers that set the tone for developing healthy emotional relationships throughout their lives. Your young one already has a special attachment to you, his parent, but he may now discover a "best" friend. These special relationships may last until adulthood, or for just a few days.
Things happen to special attachments sometimes that are out of your preschooler's control, and it may be very painful for her. A dear friend may move away or a beloved toy may get lost. It is important for you and your child's teacher to be very respectful of how she handles a stressful time like this so she understands that the situation is not her fault. Offer her compassion, a hug, a hand to hold. She'll soon happily connect with a new person or plaything, or reconnect with the original.