Did you have a blankie as a child? C’mon, you can tell us. Most small children form attachments to blankets, pacifiers, plush toys, and other comfort objects at an early age. These items give kids a sense of security and help them cope with many everyday experiences and feelings. But it can be pretty mystifying to see the lengths a toddler will go to for their favorite blankie – as anyone who’s ever lost their kid’s blankie already knows. If you’re trying to make sense of the blankie phenomenon, we can help.
The term “security blanket” (coined by Charles Schultz in the comic strip Peanuts) is an accurate one; blankets and other objects help kids feel more secure. Many doctors and researchers agree that these items often remind children of their parents and, in the absence of parents, provide support and reassurance that’s portable and always available. These cherished possessions also have a soothing effect when a child feels sleepy, sick, or anxious.
As your child’s comfort object allows them to rely on you less, it becomes easier for them to separate from you. No, this doesn’t mean they’re going to disregard you altogether, but it does help your child take those first necessary steps toward independence. Studies have shown that comfort objects actually promote play, exploration, and overall happiness in children when parents are not around.
Most children begin to disassociate from their comfort objects on their own as they transition from toddlerhood to pre-adolescence. But if your child’s devotion to a comfort object becomes excessive, it may be time to talk. Some children become so preoccupied with their comfort object they exclude other activities. In this case, it might be wise to take steps to wean them from this object. First, bring it to your child’s attention that they seem to be spending an awful lot of time with their comfort object. Then, try setting limits. The next time you’re going on a trip, ask your little one whether they would be willing to leave their comfort object at home. Then, start taking the comfort object out only at designated times, like bedtime. Before you know it, they’ll forget all about that ratty old blanket.
On the other hand, if they’re not quite at that stage yet, and you’re thinking of throwing out that threadbare blankie or that one-eyed teddy, browse CookiesKids.com for a replacement. But make sure to call your toddler over to have a look at the options – toddlers can be very choosy!