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When Should Children Give up Security Blankets?

By Carol Francois
Updated May 16, 2024
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Security blankets are a very common source of comfort for preschool and nursery age children in North America and some parts of Europe. Many security blankets are actually baby blankets. The blanket is a transitional item used by the child for support when facing new or unfamiliar situations.

Psychologists have a wide range of opinions on when a child should give up their security blankets. There is no set age, but it is advisable to have overcome this hurdle by the time the child is attending kindergarten. In North America, this is between the ages of four to five. There are two drivers behind the selection of this transition: practicality and socialization.

It is easier to manage a small child without extra items. The blanket can be lost or taken by another child. In order for the child to focus on learning and the new items in school, it is important that they are able to face new situation with confidence.

Socialization is critical to development of communication and social skills. The learning of these skills -- how to fit in with others and be a member of a group -- are essential skills for everyone. Children who have progressed past the need for a security blanket will have an immediately higher social rank. There is a simple, three-step process to successfully weaning your child from their security blankets: increase confidence, reinforce success, and remove the blanket. It is best to allow a three-week time frame to complete this transition.

To increase your child's self-confidence when facing a new situation, incorporate the old with new. Take him to a new playground that has the same equipment as a favorite playground. Let him take their security blanket and quickly engage him in playing and focusing n the activities at hand.

Offer to hold the security blanket for your child after a few minutes in the new setting. Do not force the issue, but select activities that require both hands. Return the blanket to him at the end of the activity, but only if he requests it.

In the second week, give your child something important to do that requires both hands and his full attention. This can be as simple as holding a snack bag or a large ball. Place the blanket out of sight and focus the conversation and their attention on his important role as helper. Engage him in an activity and repeated offer praise on how he have grown.

For the third and final week, make the security blanket an item that stays in his bedroom. Remind him of how proud you are of his growth and explain that the blanket is safer at home. Be calm and firm. Engage him in an activity that he has been successful in and keeps his attention moving. He is now ready to give up the blanket.

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Discussion Comments

By anon946543 — On Apr 20, 2014

I don't know when this was written, but the statement that it's easier to manage a child without small items is appalling. Do you have any idea why a child attaches to a blanket or lovey in the first place? It seems to me this article was written without the first glimpse of study into the psychology behind what compels a child to seek out comfort from an inanimate object.

A child will give up their item when they are ready. Period. Pressing the matter and forcing it upon them will only cause completely unnecessary stress on a young mind and anger and resentment in the end. If what you are seeking by forcing a child into removing their security is an ease of life so you don't have to be responsible for its care, you are opening an entirely different set of problems you will like much less.

By anon313954 — On Jan 15, 2013

A security blanket past the age of two, stands in the way of emotional maturity and the learning of coping skills, leaving the child at the emotional age of 24 months, and setting the scene for traumatic events when the security item is somehow lost or damaged.

Better to allow our children to mature and learn to cope rather than allowing/promoting a situation that couldn't possibly end in anything but heartache, since things get lost or damaged, as the natural course of life. Our planet needs more confident adults and fewer emotional infants.

By bythewell — On May 14, 2011

@umbra21 - It is a really good idea to encourage your child to give up the blanket before school starts though.

Often teachers won't let them keep it, and the first day of school can be traumatic enough for a child without taking away their blanket too.

It's easy to think they won't ever get over it, but they will. Kids can adapt to almost anything.

By umbra21 — On May 11, 2011

When my mother needed to wash my security blanket (known as Croc, since it was once a crocodile shaped sleeping bag) I would sit and watch the washing machine, then stand next to it while it was on the line outside.

I don't think I ever did give that blanket up. I think it just got smaller and smaller until there was nothing left to hold on to.

If your child won't give up his blanket, don't worry too much about it. Even if he does take it to school on the first day, he'll quickly forget it when he makes some new friends.

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