Put a Band-aid on it!

Any parent can tell you, if you put a band-aid on an “owie”, it suddenly feels much better. Band-aids aren’t magical, but to many children, they hold a secret power. The power to make all the hurt go away. Now, taking them off, is a whole different story! It’s a good things most kids will keep band-aids on until they either fall off in the tub, or get so much sand stuck in the adhesive, that they will no longer stick. The whole point of the little things is to keep the blood in, germs out. Nowhere in there was “pain relief”. Yet, to many kids, it seems to work that way.

Some parents feed into the band-aid obsession, buying cutsie printed band-aids or ones that look like tattoos. I have had many a child come into my classroom covered in band-aids, not because they were actually hurt, but because they wanted them. Different parents have different takes on the situation. The best thing I once heard a dad say was, “The way I see it, if something is hurting one of my children, whether physically or emotionally, and a band-aid, or a bunch of band-aids will help them feel better, then why not spend the few extra bucks to stock up?”

Many children have comfort items. To them, the comfort item acts as a band-aid. Something makes them sad, they go hug their blankie. They fell and got a bad scrape, they want their Bear-bear. They have to go to the Dr. to get a shot, their Foxy needs to come with to help them be brave…. It’s not that the item ACTUALLY makes them feel better, but it gives them a familiarity that is comforting.

What’s funny, is how hard it is to fool children. I have known many-a-parent that lost a child’s favorite comfort item, bought a replacement, washed it, and the child knows it wasn’t the same one! I have laughed out loud at the measures parents have taken to try to get it just as ratty, smelly, faded, etc. to try to fool their child.

The struggle both as a parent and as a teacher, is how far to let that attachment go. As a teacher, our goal is to help children learn to become independent. Sometimes, we are helping them become independent from their comfort item. One challenge comes with going outside. Some parents don’t mind their children having a favorite item (such as a blankie) out on the playground with them. As a teacher, we tend to say no. Not only does it get dirty, germs can get on the blanket that could then make the child sick. If the child gets sick, there’s potential for the whole class to get sick. That may seem a bit dramatic, but those are the kinds of things we need to think about! Parents and teachers need to work together with the best interest of the child in mind. Ground rules probably will need to be set early on in the relationship when it comes to special items from home.

There’s nothing wrong with a child having a comfort item. Like a band-aid, it can have magical powers to calm, soothe, dry tears, and make the world a better place. Not allowing a child to have their special item when they are upset will likely only make the situation worse. Cutting a child off of their “lovie” at a certain age depends on the family’s personal beliefs about such things. Usually a child will wean themselves off a “favorite” item on their own. In my experience, this usually happens as a child approaches Kindergarten. It is not uncommon though to still have one special comfort item “just at bedtime.” The most effective approach seems to be to let the child do it naturally on their own. If a parent chooses to cut the child off cold turkey, they need to be prepared to give extra love and support as their child transitions away from comforting themselves with their special blanket or stuffed animal.

Back to Band-aids, on a Totally Random note:
Band-aids have also become a metaphor for a quick fix (or a temporary fix) on things. “Let’s put a band-aid on it until we have more time to deal with it.” Band-aids are a way to buy time…. this may be a topic for another blog in the future… stalling tactics that businesses (or people in general use). Hmm…

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