Little Guy has a number of plush friends, but his two favorite are Bash (a racoon) and Mr. Turtle. He cherishes these friends so much that bed-time is not complete without both of them.
Many kiddos have a stuffed friend who is essential for day-to-day activities -- a tiny, plushy Elmo was the friend for our first daughter. And if you've ever purchased a second, identical "friend" for your child when the first one is lost, you know what I mean when I use cherish to describe your child's feelings.
Which is odd since the word is not one we use often our in day-to-day interactions.
What's interesting about cherish is that the definitions are conceptually complex, and yet, a small child's interaction with a special plush friend reflect the depth of this complexity:
How does a very young child learn to cherish a plush toy with loving care? How does a little one keep the friend in mind throughout the day or at special times of the day? How does this happen or is caring an innate human trait?
He Cherishes Bash Because He is Cherished
I am sure pediatricians or child psychologists or neuroscientists could give you definitive, data-analyzed answers to these questions. And most likely they would begin with a discussion about how vital parent-infant bonding is to life-long development.
But from a day-to-day practical point of view, a young child's attachment to a special plushy or blankie may simply be a reflexive attachment: Little Guy cherishes Bash because he knows, he experiences being cherished by MamaDad, his Grandparents and a plethora of Aunts and Uncles.
Ways to Show Your Child She is Cherished
How do we cherish our children? We show our children they are cherished by touch, eye contact, and lots of language in talking to and reading with them.
Hugs & Cuddling
I can't wait to hold 4-month old Noodle or to get a coveted hug from Little Guy -- who is parsimonious with hugs -- when we first arrive for a visit. My soul is filled with joy when their faces break out in smiles to see me or the Boss! It's important that a child is never forced to hug or touch even a family member, but we are always open to a freely given cuddle.
Looking Little Guy in the eye when he is talking let's him know he has my full attention. While it's basic respect when conversing with another person, it's easy to forget how important this simple practice is to the little ones in our lives.
I am always amazed at how babies are fascinated by the sounds we make. Our Noodle responds to our talking and singing with her own vocalizations and it is adorable when she seems to mimic the way my "hi" begins on a high note and falling to a lower note. It's rather silly, but I keep on saying "hi" as long as she responds with a similar sound. When we visit, we sing songs and read books with both of our grandchildren -- sharing a rich language-filled life with them reinforces our hugs and eye contact.