Peter Pan syndrome has infected Americans worse than we initially thought, with a new study showing that 40% of American adults still sleep beside their teddy bear at night, with some keeping the same bears they had in childhood.
The study was commissioned by the famed Build-A-Bear Workshop, which questioned 2,000 Americans on their teddy bear opinions, coming away with more than they bargained for. Not only did half the respondents say they own a stuffed animal, but 40% said they sleep next to them at night, and of that number, 56% said they sleep with their teddy from childhood. Of those questioned, 72% said they wanted to keep their stuffed animal forever.
Keeping the teddy is understandable, especially when taking into account sentimental value. I certainly can attest to this, having kept the teddy given to me as a newborn, though I keep it locked away in a box somewhere, having not actually slept with a teddy bear since, I don't know, when puberty hit. For women, the teddy bear love might have a slightly longer half-life, but if you're sleeping with a teddy bear by college, then it's time to grow up there, Tinkerbell.
Why the teddy bear? 30% said for comfort, 22% said for sentimental value about the person who gave it to them, and 19% because they liked the teddy's presence.
Best-selling author Dr. Shefali Tsabary said of the survey’s findings in a press release that the teddy bear bonding stemmed from adults yearning for childhood security.
“As children develop independence from their parents, they still yearn for a secure bond with something. In many cases, children turned to stuffed animals, including teddy bears, to help them through this transition,” the doctor said. “As we enter adulthood and leave home for the first time, it’s not a surprise that the same object re-enters our life, providing comfort while also helping us work through feelings of uncertainty as we transition into a new life stage."
Build-A-Bear Workshop welcomes the news and has added adults to their list of potential customers as a result.
"At Build-A-Bear, we believe wholeheartedly that you're never too old for a teddy bear, and we love that more than 25 percent of Build-A-Bear shoppers are 12 and older," said Sharon Price John, president and CEO, Build-A-Bear Workshop. "It's also fun to see older Guests incorporating teddy bears and other furry friends into the celebration of everyday and extraordinary moments in life – from birthdays and engagements to prom-posals."
A quarter of respondents also had children between the ages of five and ten.