The Security Blanket 101

Why does your child need that ratty old teddy bear, the raggedly looking old blanket or any seemingly dear item that he or she cannot seem to do without, particularly when it’s time for bed?

It can be irritating and not a pretty sight for a parent, dragging around a dirty, ratty object. Parents can be concerned about matters of hygiene, the child won’t let go of that blankie long enough for it to be cleaned!

It can be disturbing for parents and may think that is there something the matter with my child that he or she seems to need comfort from this object or is it that I as a parent am doing something wrong that the child seems to need to compensate by using this blanket? It may make parents angry, why won’t my child give up this awful habit? So is a security blanket cause for any of these emotions for a parent?

Not really say experts. Children seem to treasure this object, be it a stuffed animal or other toy, old blanket or simply a length of fabric or old pillow, they have few enough treasures and surely they should be entitled to them.

Research has shown that these security blankets, literal and otherwise can help a child in difficult times or in new and/or transitional situations. They may be able to adjust better to a stressful situation if they have the familiar comfort of a security blanket at hand.

If the child is to be away from parents for a time, that very security blanket can offer great comfort, in particular at the time when the child goes to bed.

There is something of a misconception that a child’s attachment to his or her security blanket reflects on his or her affinity to his or her mother. Studies have shown that there is no such connection.

So a parent need not worry that the passionate attachment that their child has for that blanket is any reflection upon the quality of the relationship that the parent has with their child.

Hygiene may be a valid concern here, particularly when the child appears to be attached to that object that he won’t even permit its cleaning. The familiar smell may be part of the comfort he or she derives and may not want the clean detergent smell to replace it.

For reasons of hygiene a parent may have to be firm or even use some guile, be firm and tell the child the item has to be cleaned or get an identical object and sneakily replace the original for a while.

The latter plan has been known not to succeed, however, children seem to be able tell the original from the copy very easily.


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