Many children latch onto a comfort object during their first year – you know the one, the blanket with the thread worn almost into a hole in some spots, its bright vibrant color long since faded to a dull hue due to countless washes. Having a security blanket, or comfort object such as a teddy bear, helps to soothe a baby when they experience fear or worry and it would cause quite a disruption in the household if something were to happen to it. So what purpose does a security blanket serve for young children? Here are four explanations for why children become so attached to their blankies.
It Reminds Them of Their Mother
Around the time they near their first birthday, babies begin to realize that their mother is a separate entity from them. Up until that time they viewed their mother as an extension of themselves. Once they realize that they are actually separate entities they begin to form a bond with something that reminds them of the security they feel when they are with their mother – their blanket, teddy bear, or other object which their mother often holds or hands them when she is cuddling or feeding them. Holding the security blanket makes them feel secure when their mother can’t be with them.
It Gives Them the Confidence to Explore New Places
The world can be a big and scary place which can make visiting new places or trying new things intimidating to a young toddler. Having their security blanket offers a child reassurance that they will be able to return to his mother once the experience is over, allowing them to relax and enjoy playing in the sand box for the first time or visiting a place that they have never been to before. Bringing his blankie with him to try something new, even if it is exploring the swings just a few feet away from you, is his way of remaining tied to you as he tests his independence.
It Helps Calm Their Fears About Going to Sleep
Nighttime can be scary for young toddlers and children, and bedtime can be wrought with anxiety. Whether it is a fear that there is a monster under the bed, a terror of the dark, or concern that you will no longer be there when he wakes up, having his blankie with him helps soothe him and bring him comfort so that he can calm his anxieties and sleep peacefully.
It Helps Them Make the Transition From Toddler to Child
Security blankets and comfort objects are often referred to as transitional objects by those in the child development field. This is because they help them transition from all that they know and are familiar with as infants, i.e. their caregivers, to exploring the unknown as they become mobile. Transitional objects help young toddlers have the courage to start making the transition from familiar territory to unfamiliar territory, encouraging their independence and allowing them to mature as they encounter new situations and experiences.
Some parents worry about their child holding onto a security blanket too long or that it is a sign of slow maturity, but this could not be further from the truth. Having a transitional object is perfectly healthy for a child and it should not be taken away from them. A child will usually give up his comfort object on his own by the time he starts Kindergarten, but even if he carries it into his grade school years there is no need for concern, he will give it up when he is ready to. Just keep in mind that no one carries their blankie down the aisle with them on their wedding day.
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