What is a Security Blanket?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Images By: Dalia Drulia, Viktor, Arienne Mccracken
  • Last Modified Date: 15 May 2020
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A security blanket is something which dispels a sense of anxiety. The term is often used literally, to refer to the blankets and other objects carried by young children, and also in a metaphorical sense, as in “My schedule is like my security blanket: I always know what's going on.” Numerous psychological studies have focused on the use of security blankets by young children, and many of these studies suggest that security blankets have positive benefits for children as they develop.

Security blankets are closely related to comfort objects, objects which provide comfort and relief from stress. Stuffed animals are a common form of comfort object, although children may become attached to any number of things, from pets to wooden spoons. In many cases, a security blanket or comfort object can become a transitional object, an object which helps to replace the mother/child bond, encouraging a child to become more independent and self-confident.

There are a wide number of slang terms and nicknames for security blankets, like blanky, banky, wubby, and so forth. The concept of the security blanket was widely popularized in the famous Peanuts comic strip, in which one of the characters carries a security blanket. In Peanuts, the security blanket is more than just a comforting object for its owner, Linus von Pelt: it also has a mind and nature of its own, sometimes rising up to defend Linus.

Studies on comfort objects have shown that having a comfort object or security blanket can help a child adapt to a new or stressful situation, which is one reason why child psychologists and other people who work with children often keep stuffed animals and toys around. Being able to cling to a security blanket can help a child feel less agitated when his or her parents are not around, and some studies seem to suggest that a security blanket can also promote learning.

Around 60% of children carry some form of a security blanket in early stages of development, suggesting that this behavior is quite normal, and many psychologists believe that carrying a security blanket is also beneficial. These objects can encourage children to be more independent and adventurous, while promoting a healthy relaxation of the bond between parent and child.

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