Does your daughter have an old raggedy blanket that she carts around everywhere? Maybe your son insists on bringing his favorite teddy bear to the strangest places? Does it sometimes make you feel like your child is channeling Linus from The Peanuts? If so, you may be wondering what this all means. You’re in the right place! Here, we’ll take a closer look at security items and kids.
My daughter was a binky baby. She never went anywhere without that darn thing. When she got into Dora The Explorer somehow Swiper swiped all her binkies and that was the end of that!
My youngest boys are a little different. They each have a blanket that we used in the hospital from the day they were born. To this day they still cart those blankets around everywhere.
Why Do Kids Have Security Items?
If you ever wondered why your child insists on bringing their security blanket or stuffed animal everywhere they go? The answer is simple. Security items, which are also commonly referred to transitional objects or comfort objects, help your child gain their independence.
Security items help your child learn how to transition from familiar places to new or scary environments. For example, your child may insist on bringing their security blanket or stuffed animal to their first day at a new daycare or even to the grocery store. Your child will feel comforted to know that their “blankie” or teddy bear is right there along with them when they’re introduced to new people or unfamiliar places. It will make them feel less alone and more secure.
Since security items are also generally soft and comforting objects, it will also remind your child of home – a soft, inviting place.
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Related: What My Mom Never Told Me About Having Kids
When Do Children Get Attached to Security Items?
The age at which a child begins to rely on a security item can vary. Some children may develop an attachment to a security blanket or stuffed animal around the time they turn one. Most children begin to form a strong attachment to a security item when they’re about 18 to 24 months old.
When Will Your Child No Longer Need a Security Item?
Is there relief from hauling this blanket or bear all over? As I write this my youngest boys are 6 and 4 and being that I have raised them so far as a single parent it has been easier to allow them to take their items wherever we go. I have made sure they know that their blankets are their responsibility so if they leave it, it’s their own fault.
However, The amount of time in which a child may rely on a security item will vary. Although most children grow out of their security items by the time they’re five years old, some children may remain attached to their security blanket or stuffed animal for even longer than that.
Should You Take a Child’s Security Item Away?
If it feels like your child has been using a security item for a prolonged period of time, you may be wondering if it’s a good idea to take it away from them. How do you know when it’s time? Will your child be lugging their security blanket to school with them? How old is “too old” to keep security items? Most experts recommend allowing your child to decide when they are ready to give up their security item. If you’re facing a transition, such as entering school, you might work on new boundaries for your child’s security items, but it doesn’t mean you have to take them away completely. What do we mean by that? Well, a large blanket or stuffed animal may not be allowed at school, but there’s no harm in your child keeping it at home. For school, you can consider replacing it with a small item they can keep in their pocket or in their backpack, that makes them feel better while at school.
Since security blankets and stuffed animals don’t cause any physical or emotional harm, it’s not necessary to take them away. In addition, by taking a child’s security item away could have them believing that their emotional attachments can – and should – be broken at any time. This can give them unhealthy perceptions about relationships and bonding.
Related: Keepsake Ideas For Your Childs Security Blanket
The exception to this general rule of thumb would be if your child’s security item is a pacifier. Since prolonged use of pacifiers can cause dental problems, it’s best to wean your child off of them. You can talk to your pediatrician and your child’s dentist about this if it’s an issue.
These are just some things to know about security items. Although you may grow frustrated with your child constantly bringing their security blanket or stuffed elephant with them everywhere they go, it’s important to have patience. Security items play a key role in a child’s development.
In the grand scheme of things, is it really such a big deal? It’s something nearly every child does at some point.
I’ve never given this much thought because none of my 3 kids ever really had a security anything, but I can definitely see why many parents need this info. I mean, on one hand you feel guilty taking it away, but on the other hand your child will need to learn to confront new situations eventually.
Kathleen Kennedy-Leon says
my kids are 23, 17 and 9 and they all have / had security items. This is certainly a normal part of growing up at least in our house. I can tell you that while they outgrow the security part of carrying their favorite items around–all three of them still to this day have their items. So don’t despair, if your child is still holding on to something–they eventually let it go and have a wonderful keepsake.
Mine are 23, 21, and 7…when the 23 year old was 13 I took the bear from her and said she could have it back when she went to college. Lo and behold, it was the first thing she packed for the dorm. Baby bear still sits on her bed.
My friend’s children have had all sorts of weird and wonderful security blankets. I think the most important thing is to watch for the cues of the child to see if they are ready. I think one of my friends kids gave their blanket to the Easter Bunny to keep him warm 🙂
Kimberly @ Berly's Kitchen says
My son had a blanket that he slept with until he was about 10. I think the blanket is still in his room somewhere, but he doesn’t have to sleep with it every night anymore. However, he rarely lets me touch it, wash it, fold it, etc. Still very protective of it. Did I mention he’s 14? Lol!
Lisa Favre says
I know so many babies who are just so much more secure with their blankies. Seems to be quite a popular item. I know that pacifiers, as you mentioned, something to wean off – especially because of risk of dental problems in the future.
Ali Rost says
My son had a bear that he carried with him for the longest time. After it became un-cool he took to sleeping with it. When he went off to college, I tucked it away in his treasure chest. I know one day, when he has a little one of his own, he’ll be glad to have it. x
Tina Butler says
I had a security pillow growing up and two of my kiddos had items as well. A blanket and the dreaded binky just like your daughter. The binky was definitely the hardest to break. My son is 13 and still has his blanket but it is tucked away in his closet. 🙂
I never had a security item as a child but I have seen lots of children with them. Interesting article for sure. I would have never even thought twice about something like this but you’ve definitely opened my eyes to the subject. Thanks for sharing.
I’m wondering what to do about my little one. His security item is a blanket, but when he has it…he is always sucking his thumb. Without his blanket he doesn’t suck his thumb. I hate to take it away though.
aly mashrah says
I’ve never experience this with my son, but I know that my niece has a security blanket she likes to take with her. I actually think it’s really cute and it’s nice that it can give her comfort while she’s traveling with her mom, etc. It’s important for parents to understand why their children need or have security items and to make the decision for when to step in and help their children deal with new situations.
My son didn’t seem to have a security issue with items. But hey. I know adults who have security items.
Very true. I still have my bear from childhood in my closet.