The Special Christmas Toy Aiming To Help Those Struggling This Festive Season

IT’s the most magical time of the year – and the season most children look forward to more than most.

But for some children and teenagers and their loved ones , Christmas can also present huge challenges.

A report by The Children’s Society estimates half a million children are worried about their feelings: but they’re not asking anyone for help.

Mental health expert and author Lynn Crilly says these “disturbing” findings underline the importance of early intervention – and in securing help before things reach crisis point.

And Lynn, who has supported her own daughter Samantha through an eating disorder, OCD and mental ill health, says Christmas can be a bittersweet time for many young people and their families.

She said: “The reality is that some children will find Christmas a struggle and for those who might be experiencing mental ill health or an eating disorder, it can be a real challenge. What makes it harder is that many services which offer support aren’t as readily available as they are at other times of the year. Schools and clubs close as well, which for some young people can be a really important support network.”

Lynn’s own concerns about the struggles some children are facing has inspired her to develop and release a new teddy bear called the TroubleMuncher – that helps young people “cuddle” their fears away.

Through play writing or verbal communicationLynn and Samantha, who helped design the toy, appeared on TV earlier this year to talk about the benefits the toy can bring.

The toy comes with a notepad, and kids who own one are encouraged to write down what’s troubling them then pop the note into a rucksack on the bear’s back.

The bear is also linked to a free to download app, which lets the child communicate directly with the TroubleMuncher bear.

In the app an animated version of the bear listens to the problem and then munches their troubles away.Lynn said: “It encourages children to express their feelings and to communicate because a lot of them now are becoming quite introverted and losing the confidence in physically socialising and feel that they can’t share their troubles.”

Daughter Samantha added: “Many children don’t find it easy to say how they feel so they’ll put the thought in there. Then when they leave for school, the thought will be there for their parents to come and look at and it can help to be the first step towards them getting support.

Samantha has also penned a poem to explain how the bear can help. It reads: “When your head is overflowing, with all the thoughts and worrying, the Trouble Muncher will be there, for you to write down and share, as it munches them away, allowing you to have a clearer brighter day.”

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