How to Wean a Child From a Blanket

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That cherished blanket that has provided your child with comfort and security, seemingly from day one, has had an important place in your child’s life. A security object such as a blanket can help a child withstand stress and anxiety in some situations, so some children develop a strong attachment to the object, according to Cornell University Cooperative Extension. When you decide it’s time to wean your child away from his attachment to the blanket, proceed carefully to ensure a peaceful transition.

  • Begin to limit your child’s use of the blanket once she reaches is old enough that you can discuss it with her and she understands the conversation – perhaps once she turns 2. Tell your child, “It’s time to start leaving your blanket at home and inside the house now, because you’re getting to be a bigger girl.” The Early Childhood Parenting Center recommends setting gradual limits on a child’s blanket use.

  • Watch your child to see how he handles the gradual transition to using the blanket less. Optimally, your child should handle the transition positively, without undue stress. If you see indications of increased anxiety in your child – crying, clinginess or eating and sleep changes, your child may not be handling the transition well.

  • Increase the quality time you spend with your child during the transition phase, especially if your child exhibits anxiety. Spend time snuggling, reading, playing and talking. Hug your child often to help build security.

  • Decrease time with the blanket again, when your child shows comfort with the current status. The next step usually entails keeping the blanket in bed and allowing your child to have it at nap time and bed time.

  • Provide positive encouragement for your child as she adjusts to the decreased time with her blanket. You might say, “You are doing so well with leaving your blanket in bed now. Let’s go outside and play, shall we?”

  • Help your child find a special place to put his blanket when you see that his transition away from it has occurred. The blanket may lay unheeded and unneeded under his bed or at the foot of his bed. This would be the time to fold it up neatly and place it in a drawer or on a shelf where he can find it if he needs it.

Tips & Warnings

  • A child may need to fall back on a security object during times of increased stress and upheaval, which is a normal coping mechanism, states the American Academy of Pediatrics. By leaving the blanket where your child can find it, if necessary, you provide a means for coping with fear and anxiety. The AAP also states that there is no reason to keep a child from using a security object.
  • Unless a child’s need for a security object begins to interfere with social relationships, playing, sleeping or eating, a child should have access to the object to ease anxiety, states the Cornell University Cooperative Extension.
  • If a school or daycare has a policy about security objects, you might try to negotiate the policy for your child to enable your child to keep the blanket in a cubby for anxious episodes.

References

  • Photo Credit Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images
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