Does your child have a stuffed toy, a blanket, a rag doll, a battered toy, an old baby bottle, or any other object which he or she refuses to part with? Even if your child is no longer a baby, he or she might keep these items nearby or in bed. You may even notice your child cannot sleep without them and often have difficulty letting go or getting rid of these items.
Psychologists call these items "comfort objects" or "security blankets". They are an essential part of a child's development.
Comfort objects or security blankets are usually soft, cuddly things, like a blanket, a cloth diaper, or a furry teddy bear--something that babies can hold close to their nose and mouth.
It has been observed that children seem to need these things to relieve tension and anxiety, particularly when they are going to sleep in unfamiliar surroundings or when they are away from their mother.
It is normal for a child to have an attachment to a comfort object because this symbolically represents a mother's warm loving presence.
According to Michele Alignay, Parenting Relationship Consultant from the Love Institute, psychologists call these things "transition objects."
During the first few months of an infant's life, a mother and infant form a very close relationship. Babies see their mother as an extension of themselves.
Only around the third month does a baby’s increased understanding of his surroundings make him aware that he and his mother are actually two separate people.
A baby can become scared or anxious when the mother leaves, fearful she would never return. This anxiety increases from the fourth month onward, which is when transitional objects play a vital role.
Put simply, a transitional object reminds a baby of his mother. The baby will cuddle the object and begin to form an attachment to it, due to his association of it with his mother. This gives the baby a heartening feeling when his mother is not available.
Alignay said because security blankets are meant to make a child feel safe, parents should be concerned when the child persistently clings to the security blanket even when the mother or parents are present which may indicate another unidentified source of anxiety or stress.
Parents can also try to provide other toys to their child early on or allow the toddler to play with other children in order to for the child to gradually let go of the security blanket. – Segment Producer: Gina Tobias, Multimedia Producer: Yam dela Cruz
Additional resources: http://www.ecpcla.org/2013/08/23/security-blanket/
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