When Should Kids Give Up Comfort Items?

When Should Your Child Give Up a Lovey?

It's been three, four, five, six, or more years, and your child is still carting around and cuddling his lovey. Is it time for your child to start seeking comfort without his favorite object?

Mom Kacie says her 4-year-old son Corbin is starting pre-K in August and has been attached to his blankie for three years. "I need to get him to start leaving it at home," she says, seeking the Circle of Moms community for advice on how to say "bye-bye, blankie." 

Similarly, Debra N. says her granddaughter is 5 years old and still loves the blanket she got when she was born. "She wouldn't dream of sleeping without it — during the day, she holds/cuddles it while watching TV, and she has given it a gender (she says it's a 'he'). Do I slowly wean her off having a blankie, or let her do it on her own?"

Read on for four tips for letting go of a favorite cuddly toy or blanket.

1. Having a Lovey Is Normal

While it might be a pain to help your child keep track of (and constantly clean) her favorite stuffed animal or blanket, it's not unusual for some kids to hold onto their loveys past the preschool years, Circle of Moms members say. Many preschoolers are still attached to security blankets, animals, or pacifiers, but most of the time when they're playing with the other kids they don't think about them, Emily B. confirms.  

Janet O. is one of several Circle of Moms members who held onto her lovey past preschool. "I had my teddy bear until I was 12," she admits. And April B. says her 8-year-old daughter still sleeps with her blanket and her 7-year-old still sleeps with a stuffed animal. But since they don't carry them anywhere else, she's not worried about it.

"I can't foresee a scenario where he will be taking it to college with him, and if he does, the peer pressure will surely cause him to stop sleeping with it," she jokes. "In my opinion, having a security item is great for traveling and going to Grandma's. It seems to make them feel at home wherever they are."

Theresa M. agrees, noting that she's 37 years old and still has her blanket, and she has another childhood friend who still has her blankie as well, although they keep the blankets packed away. "We are educated, very well socialized people who are 'successful!'" she says. "Maybe that's because our mothers didn't try to remove our security." 

2. Don't Rush It 

With that thought in mind, most Circle of Moms members say as long as your child's lovey isn't a pacifier, then it's best to just let your children give up their comfort item on their own when they determine they're ready. "They can't take things to school (obviously)," Theresa says, but she suspects most children will begin to separate themselves from their treasured item during the day at first and then gradually at night. 

Amber V. says her 5-year-old son still has his blankie and was OK leaving it at home when he started school. "He was excited to come home each day and tell blankie all about school," she says, but she adds that she doesn't think "there's anything wrong with them needing a comfort object at bedtime. There are a lot of adults that need to have things a certain way to sleep (pillow a certain way, window open, TV on or off). They will figure out what works for them and it may seem weird sometimes, but it always eventually changes." 

Jane M. agrees. "If they have a lovey or a blanket, let them have it for as long as possible," she says, limiting it to the bed, doctor appointments, long car rides, or in their backpacks during school. "These types of things help them transition into other parts of their lives. [They'll] stop using it when [they don't] need it anymore — no need to rush the process of growing up."  

3. Have a Goodbye Ceremony

If you're determined to help your child give up her security blanket quickly, then you could try to have a goodbye ceremony to mark its departure and see what happens, some moms suggest.

For instance, Kathy H. says she got a Christmas clothes box with a big picture of Santa on it, she got her daughter, and they folded up the blanket together, put it in the box, taped it securely, then wrote a note on the box that she wasn't allowed to open it until age 21, the age her daughter picked. "It has been stored safely since," she says, noting that the two discussed the goodbye ceremony a lot before it was performed so that it didn't come as a shock. "She is a teenager now and takes out that box and laughs as she remembers her blankie," she says. "It will be fun to see her open it when she is an adult."

4. Let Go Piece by Piece

If you find your child is having difficulty parting with his favorite blanket all at once, some Moms members suggest you do it gradually or piece by piece.

For instance, Nikki L. says both her 6-year-old and 4-year-old have loveys, so she limited the times her children could have with them. The snugglies can stay in the kids' bedrooms as long as the kids want, but "the frustration of them forgetting them when we went out and the whining and crying if [they were] forgotten was too much," she explains. Now, the kids can only bring the loveys down from their bedrooms if the family watches a movie and they want to snuggle, she says.  

Meanwhile, Erin J. says her girls, ages 4 and 6, still have their blankies, but they rarely take them out of the house. She also suggests cutting a small patch from the blankie that your child can keep in her pocket to rub and play with if she needs the extra "security."  

And similarly, Liz P. suggests a "painless" way of parting with a blankie is to cut off an inch all the way around once or twice a week "until it gets so small that you can attach it to a key ring. I did this with my 14-year-old; she still has a bit of her blankie." 

Remember, while you may be tired of seeing your child drag around a teddy when he should be a "big kid," if you're pushing your child to part with it and he's having a hard time, then maybe you need a compromise to work on giving it up gradually, some Circle of Moms members say. After all, the reason children like their loveys so much is because they provide comfort and security. So the right time to give up a lovey really comes down to "whatever your kids are comfortable with and what you are willing to deal with," Kristal J. summarizes. 

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