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.