Hi, my name is Dr. Linda Olson. I’m a clinical psychologist and the mother of three sons. Let me tell you why I started My Hope Bear.
As the eldest of six children, I grew up in a violent and abusive home. I lived in constant fear and blamed myself for a lot of the violence. This is not uncommon. Many children who grow up with trauma blame themselves, and carry a lot of guilt and shame into their adult lives.
As a child I had a very hard time calming myself down and learning to self-soothe. I can remember sobbing uncontrollably, screaming, and sometimes even destroying the toys I had. I did this to distract myself from the emotional turmoil inside the house. Two of my sisters also witnessed childhood domestic violence (CDV) and engaged in self-destructive behaviors. Years later, Ann was killed by an ex-boyfriend and Mary died homeless. I created a therapeutic Teddy Bear to help children growing up with trauma and loss learn to self-regulate and self-soothe.
In memory of my two sisters, I also designed and patented the two hearts awareness ribbon found on one of the paws. “You are not alone” is inscribed on the other paw. Most kids who grow up with trauma suffer in silence and feel very alone and isolated.
I created My Hope Bear for two reasons. Help children self-regulate and self-soothe. Give children a friendly companion to help them feel listened to, validated and understood. In psychology, we call this a “transitional object.” Research shows children who grow up using transitional objects have less anxiety and stress and learn to self- regulate.
My hope is that every child growing up with trauma and loss receives one of these cuddly and therapeutic companions. More than calming emotions and reducing anxiety, My Hope Bear can help every child feel understood and loved.