The encyclopedia defines friendship as a relationship of mutual affection between people. Friendship is an important part of growing up – a first friendship may form with a sibling, an imaginary friend, or for many us, a stuffed animal. How many people recall making “tea” for their stuffed animal friends?
Is there any difference between a friendship with a stuffed animal and an imaginary friend? Researchers found that children who create a friend out of a personified object tend to have a parent-like relationship with their special toy friend, whereas children with invisible friends tend to imagine an egalitarian relationship, more like a real friend, writes Psychology Today.
According to Parents magazine, these playthings have unique advantages over other toys, researchers say. Because kids know that a plush puppy or a princess doll represents a living thing, they can relate and attach emotions to it. Playing with these “friends” allows kids to explore their complex feelings. Dolls and stuffed animals also give toddlers the chance to master people skills, improve their vocabulary, and much more.
Disney’s Doc McStuffins brings to life this concept of stuffed animals and toys. Here stuffed animals are able to move, speak, hear, see and smell, and she can interact with them. With help from her stuffed friends – Stuffy the Dragon, Hallie the Hippo, Lambie the Lamb, and Chilly the Snowman – Doc helps toys recover, or “feel better”, by giving them check-ups and diagnosing their illnesses with an encyclopedia called “The Big Book of Boo Boos” and another encyclopedia called “The Big Vet Book” for her toy pets when she’s a veterinarian.
In My Little Pony Friendship is Magic series, Princess Celestia sends her star pupil, the bookish unicorn Twilight Sparkle, to Ponyville to improve her socialization skills. Twilight quickly makes five new four-legged friends: Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy and Rarity. Each instilled with the respective spirits of magic, honesty, loyalty, laughter, kindness and generosity, the animals learn that by working together they can achieve the most important element of all: harmony.
In Paw Patrol a friendship was formed based upon their desire to protect and save Adventure Bay. Chase, Skye and Marshall bond whether it’s saving a cat in a tree or rescuing someone off the train tracks, they always find a way to help those in need.
The true bond of Dory and Nemo are summed up in this great quote: “When I look at you, I can feel it. I look at you, and I’m home.” This is why people say they can go years without talking to a friend and just jump right back into a conversation without missing a beat. Friendship is like going home again.
Sheriff Callie has some wonderful takes on teaching preschoolers about being good friends and citizens through the adventures of a colorful cast of animal characters in an Old West setting. Each story sees one character faced with a choice between doing the right thing and doing the easy thing, the latter of which always has negative consequences like mistrust or hurt feelings, until the instigator makes amends. Friendships help navigate the way.
One of the most beloved children’s books is Winnie-the-Pooh and this quote from author A.A. Milne sums up the friendship of Winnie-the-Pooh, Eeyore and Piglet, and hopefully all friendships, perfectly: “If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together… there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… I’ll always be with you.”