It’s ratty, old, and dingy, and likely smells no matter how many times you wash it but for some reason it’s your child’s favourite and they just can’t seem to live without it. It’s that blankie that they got when they were newly born or very young and it’s now threadbare and has been stitched up more times that you can count. And you want it GONE.
You are picturing your child as Linus from the Charlie Brown comic strips and fear that they may never be able to function without that silly thing. Think again. Having an attachment to a certain object is very normal for little ones – be it their soother, blankie, or special stuffed animal. Here are some suggestions of ways that you as a parent or caregiver can help the child transition to a happy life without their blankie.
1. Find the reason for the obsession.
Before you go taking it away you need to think about the following things: why do they love it so much? Does it bring them comfort, or are they just used to it? You can also ask yourself why you want it gone so much (most likely because it’s gross!).
Only when the latter outweighs the former should you consider weaning your child off of a blankie – meaning only when your need to get rid of it is stronger than your little ones’ need to have it should you try going through the process of getting rid of blankie.
2. Use trial and error.
Feel free to try just taking it away and seeing if your child even notices. If they don’t notice, you have made a good case for the reason they don’t need it anymore. Congratulations! You are one of the few people in the world this has worked for. You can stop reading and go on enjoying your child – blankie free! If that doesn’t work, join the club and keep reading.
3. Slow and steady wins the race.
Trying to go cold turkey without blankie can be difficult for a child. Think of adults who try to quit smoking and they’re grown up! Figure out when your child uses their blankie. Do they carry it everywhere or do they only use it at nap and bedtime? Then make a plan of attack for how to wean your child off of their blankie.
Start little. For instance – if they carry it around everywhere maybe make a rule that blankie has to stay at home, or in their room. If it’s only used for sleeping, try to say it’s just for nighttime and not for naps. Expect this to be a slow process. There may be some tears or some whining – that’s normal, but stick with it and don’t give in.
Know that there may be some setbacks to this as well. If a child is sick or away from home they may need that comfort and security because they are outside of their normal routine at home.
4. Try to reason with your child.
Why do you want it gone? Chances are your child is getting too big to have a blankie, or it is too ratty. Tell them! Explain to them in kid-friendly language why it’s time for them to get rid of the blankie and move on. If all else fails literature is a great place to turn. Read children’s books with them about being without their blankie.
There are other logical reasons why they may need to be without their blankie as well: perhaps there is a new baby coming into the house, or they have become a big kid and are going off to kindergarten so that they can’t take it with them for naptime.
Be sure to talk about these life-changing events and use them to your advantage for losing the blankie. That being said, it isn’t advisable to try and transition from a blankie at the same time as a big change occurs in their life. For example it’s probably a bad time to take away a blankie the day before they start kindergarten so be logical on when you start.
5. Repurpose it.
The blankie doesn’t have to vanish into thin air, or even the garbage! Why not put the blankie, or a piece of it, into a shadow box to hang in the child’s room with other baby/childhood memories like pictures, sleepers, booties, etc. That way the blankie can still be seen and present but not necessarily used for everyday purposes.
You could always do a baby quilt with pieces of their childhood. Include squares of clothes they loved and certainly part of that blankie. Now, if the problem was that it’s too small – it’s big enough again! Or if you don’t want them carrying the quilt around everywhere you could say it’s a special bed quilt that lives on their bed but can’t go anywhere else: except the washing machine of course!
6. If all else fails – lie.
This is one avenue that you should only try as a last resort, only after you’ve tried everything else and it hasn’t worked. You went on a trip to a hotel and forgot the blankie there and now the maid can’t find it? Oh shoot. Your dog, who hasn’t touched the thing until now, somehow got a hold of it and has ripped it to shreds? Shucks. You had a washer accident and now their favourite blue blanket is dyed purple? That’s too bad. But seriously – these plans can backfire and cause a lot of tears so try other methods before using this one.
Ever tried to get rid of pacifiers for your little one? Bottles? A favourite stuffy? This is the same thing! It just takes time, patience and perseverance. Try as much as possible to be clear with your expectations, for instance by creating a logical consequence that is followed through on if the expectation isn’t respected. You could say that the blankie goes away for the day if it heads outside. It’s very rare that teenagers head off to college or university with their blankie in hand prepared to still use it. So take a deep breath and go into this journey with love and kindness and the results are bound to be good and blankie free.