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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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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.
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.