Imaginary friend. I know this sounds creepy and scary. But it seems to be extremely common amongst children. Almost 2 two third of the children have an imaginary friend. My 3-year-old toddler is often seen talking to this imaginary friend of her’s whose name changes always. She spends most of her time with her friends from nursery class and even day care kids. She is quite close to them and once at home she has imaginary conversations with these friends. Initially, I felt its fine and with time it will pass. However, off-late I have noticed that her conversations with these imaginary friends are more advanced. After a lot of research on the web and discussions with few close friends, I realised that even their kids have had an imaginary friend at some point in time and the phase just passed.
How common are imaginary friends?
Most young kids play pretend games and begin to interact with their stuffed soft toys, dolls, chair, pillow, and any other special toy which is close to them. In a lot of cases, these kids go a step farther and make an imaginative play into having an imaginary friend. These friends come in various forms depending on your child’s imagination. One thing that I have realised is that it’s no more a cause of concern since I believe kids crave for a company and someone to talk to, so they talk in thin air with this imaginary friend. In fact lot of studies have proved that having an imaginary friend helps in overall development of the child from language to social skills. These kids are believed to be more creative and advanced and get along with others very well. Having an imaginary friend is a natural and healthy part of the child development.
Well, it wasn’t fun to notice my baby girl having both the sides of her conversation with a chair. Whenever I heard her talking to her chair, I would ask her whats the name of your friend and how does she look like. I always got different answers to this. However, I started being more vigilant and tried to understand the conversation my daughter had with the chair (her imaginary friend used to sit on this chair only). I used to hear the sound of mutterings coming from my daughter’s bedroom. Whenever I asked her who she was talking to,the response usually be Nobody! I am sure many parents would be familiar with this.
Studies prove that it is good for the healthy development of your child to have an imaginary friend. Don’t get very inquisitive about this friend and do not ask too many questions to your children because if someone tries to interact with this friend, the friend disappears as miraculously as it arrived. So whenever you see you child chattering in this air with her/his imaginary friend better not to intervene. It’s in interests of your child’s healthy development and let them keep it that way, here’s why.
- Learn to take control: An imaginary friend gives your child the opportunity to take control of things and lets them tell someone what to do. They make their imaginary friend behave the way they want them to.
- Break the boredom: Kids who have an imaginary friend do not get bored and always have a companion to keep them busy.
- Voice their opinion/concern: Some kids have the tendency to use their imaginary friend to convey their messages/ concerns. For example, Tinu does not like that mum is angry
- All mine: The imaginary friend belongs to the person who has invented it. It does not have to be shared with anyone.
- Missing parental attention: Imaginary friends are common amongst kids whose newborn sibling is born. It is this friend who provides comfort and replaces parental attention.
- Practice everything: An imaginary friend gives the child a perfect opportunity to practice what they want to say to someone else. It also helps in improving verbal skills.
- Naughty Friend: Some naughty children can make an imaginary friend a scapegoat. “It wasn’t me who spill the juice it was Tinu”.
- Companionship: Imaginary friends provide the needed companionship that’s not always available from real friends.The joy of creating imaginary friend is unique and appealing to children of ages from 2 to 7 years. Let your child have an imaginary friend. Your child won’t become a lonely introvert. In most cases, this imaginary friend will disappear in few month to few years. Do remember to provide your kids with real life experiences and real life companions and opportunities for other kinds of pretend play.