Imaginary Friends; What Parents Need to Know

Imaginary Friends

When you were little, did you ever have an imaginary friend? It could be a make believe person or a toy or anything you wanted it to be. Why did you decide to make up this person or make the toy your friend, and what did it do to help you through tough times, or maybe normal times? Did your imagination make up a name for this person? It sure sounds like fun.

These are the kinds of questions one might ask someone who had an imaginary friend. The answers in this piece might surprise and help you and give you a chuckle..

Two Almost Look Alike Girls Holding Hearts Over FAces
Two Almost Look Alike Girls Holding Hearts Over FAces

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to understand this type of play. Psychologists say many reasons exist for imaginary friends. An only child might choose a playmate in order to have someone to relate to in the absence of siblings. On the other hand, maybe it was for fun. One of the reasons to make up someone is because of abuse. To escape the thoughts of the abuse, this boy or girl could talk and play with the pretend child, thus providing a a good outlet.

Marjorie Taylor, PhD of the University of Oregon believes that often something is missing in a child's life when the imaginary friend becomes important. They may be bored or lonely or moved to a new community and invented an invisible person due to the transition.

Doll Imaginary Friend
Doll Imaginary Friend

Some psychologists believe a child who has a great amount of spare time might make up a friend. Although some may disagree, shy children often invent the mystery child. A darkness in the lives of children are the thoughts of some experts This does not appear to be true in most situations. A new baby in the home or a pending divorce might make the invention of a friend reasonable. Some children may carry imaginary persons into adolescence, but most children are of ages three to eight and usually the experience lasts only for several years.

Eileen Kennedy Moore, PhD says studies show 37% of children indulge in this experience, while one study shows 67% of children imagine these playmates. The majority of these children readily admit they are not real but make believe kids.

Animal Imaginary Friend.
Animal Imaginary Friend.

A Movie About This Activity

A movie "Imaginary Child" told the story of parents with two children and an invention by the mother of a third sibling, a girl. Allegedly, the husband was gone much of the time causing the creation of the child. The father and older daughter accepted the girl and talked about her as if she existed. She had her own bedroom, and was very real. A nanny reported the family to welfare services, as the situation caused confusion for the young boy. Luckily, when the relationship improved between parents, the mother's imaginary person became sick and died.They buried her, and that brought closure to the situation.

Real Stories

Another imaginary child story, told in an article, came to a head when the mother and three kids were backing out of the driveway. The four year old began screaming, because the mother backed the car while the imaginary playmate stood behind the car. The upset mother's heart began to race. Parents must not allow any dangerous behavior with the pretend child.Eileen Kennedy Moore, PhD told the story of this situation in her article "Imaginary Child" in Psychology Today.

Child with Blond Hair.and Frosting on Face
Child with Blond Hair.and Frosting on Face

More Stories

A psychologist had a three-year-old daughter. She thought her child's friend was someone from preschool but discovered the friend was a barnyard of giraffes when she accidentally stepped on one. This invention was for fun, apparently.

This author's child had imaginary playmates who were stick figures. She stated the reason for them was her shyness, and the stick figures became real friends at school when she became more outgoing.

A friend of this author, when she was three, had an imaginary friend named Polecat Poo, her father's nickname for his daughter. She was beautiful, had gorgeous clothes, lived in a grand house, and was her friend just for fun. She outgrew Polecat in about two years and remembers the time she spent in her highchair talking with her lovely pretend playmate.

Parents Need to Know Their Role

How do you deal with these imaginary friends if you are a parent? Anita Gurian, PhD, author of an article on imaginary friends states some parents become alarmed about the invisible playmate.They believe something may be wrong with their kids. She tells parents the children are curious and creative and to accept those facts.You should let it be, unless it becomes disruptive. Some parents set a place at the table for the child and get right into the game. If the child begins to blame the friend for the naughty things, the parents need to deal with that situation. If the situation becomes obsessive to the point where it takes over one's life, that person may need to get help.

Snowbear is this boy's imaginary friend.
Snowbear is this boy's imaginary friend.

Summary

Kids for fun, to forget abuse, in absence of playmates or siblings, shyness, or an excess amount of spare time, invent imaginary friends. The play itself can last for several years and begin as early as age 3. It is very normal as can be seen in the video below. Parents must monitor this situation to ensure it remains positive, often going along with the pretend person. If it overwhelms the child or becomes obsessive, it may need action. This experience may occur in creative children and may further their expertise. At a young age, B.K. Rowling invented characters that later become the popular Harry Potter series. Creativity is a skill, and may take children and their playmates to wonderful make believe lands and help them deal with life. Some may even grow up to be writers.

 
Reasons for Invisible Playmate
 
Shyness
Loneliness
Dark reason
New move
Just for fun
New baby
Abuse escape
Too much spare time
Divorce
No siblings
 
 

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Comments 28 comments

FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

While neither my husband nor myself had imaginary friends when we were children, our only daughter had a band of imaginary playmates when she was a preschooler. (She had real ones too.) Each of the imaginaries had odd names (Klunk-Klunk), different personalities and various colors of hair and skin (e.g., blue). She also looked for a lot of "clues" in numbers, such as the serial numbers on dollar bills. She was just a creative spirit; she's grown up well-adjusted thanks to her imaginary friends. Ten years later, she does not even recall they were there, but we do.


brakel2 profile image

brakel2 2 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Author

Hi flourish. Thanks for reading my hub and telling the imaginary friend story. You have proven this play can help kids to be well adjusted. I wish I had made up someone in my young life. Your comment adds credibility, and your comment is great, as usual. Blessings. Audrey


marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 2 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

I am chuckling because I had an "imaginary school house" where I was the teacher of a dozen or so young ladies (I always loved Jo March of 'Little Women' and projected as she would...)

Now I instruct nurses and my specialty is psychiatry...hmmm, I was training in my own fertile imagination and didn't even know... I was the youngest in my family, with a large age gap with my next brother...so in a sense, I felt like an only child.

Your writing is responsible, informative and balanced beautifully with example and relevant information. Excellent writing...UP & UABI.


brakel2 profile image

brakel2 2 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Author

Thanks so much, Maria for your humbling remarks about my writing. That is so funny about the imaginary schoolhouse with you and students. I wish I had imaginary friends. They sound like such fun. I admire your ability to achieve such an employment skill. I will stop by again to read. Blessings. Audrey it is a pleasure to know you.


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 2 years ago from California

Again, a really well presented hub--lots of great info--and well written!


brakel2 profile image

brakel2 2 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Author

Hi Audrey. I'm glad you enjoyed my friends" hub. It was fun to write and update my knowledge about the kids' little playmates. I love to read your hubs so will stop by soon Blessings. Audrey


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean

Audrey, I gained new information on this topic from your article. I have no first-hand experience with imaginary friends--neither in my childhood or in my children's. Never thought seriously about the implications until now. Thank you for this interesting presentation. Voted Up!


Writer Fox profile image

Writer Fox 2 years ago from the wadi near the little river

What an interesting subject to write about! I'm sure that many parents of young children will be glad to know that imaginary friends are nothing to be concerned about. That video was a good choice, too. Voted up and interesting!


Vellur profile image

Vellur 2 years ago from Dubai

Interesting and useful hub. Children invent imaginary friends for many reasons and as long as it does not get out of hand it is okay. Great write. Voted up.


brakel2 profile image

brakel2 2 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Author

Hi Writer Fox It is an interesting topic, and I never had an imaginary friend. It was fun researching the subject. Thanks so much for stopping by and for your kind remarks. So many hubs on this site are learning experiences. We become smarter day by day. Take care. Blessings, Audrey


brakel2 profile image

brakel2 2 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Author

Hi - Sometimes it is difficult to find a fun topic on which to write. The stories about these friends are sometimes comical. Thanks for stopping by the hub and commenting about it in a kind manner. I remember you from a forum yesterday, so it is so nice to meet you. I have read some of your hubs and will stop by to comment. I hope you are enjoying your time on this site, and good luck with your writing. Blessings, Audrey


brakel2 profile image

brakel2 2 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Author

Above is to Vellur


travmaj profile image

travmaj 2 years ago from australia

I find it interesting and very well presented. Brought back memories - one of my children had an imaginary friend named Queenie. We all accepted her. She was around for a while and then gradually faded away.


brakel2 profile image

brakel2 2 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Author

Hi Trav. I never had an imaginary friend, so Iove to learn about them from others. Queenie is a cute name, and I hope you enjoyed this time with your child and friend. At least, it is a memory. Thanks for stopping by to read this hub. I enjoy your writing and topics of hubs. Blessings. Audrey


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 2 years ago from Templeton, CA

I can't remember much about my imaginary friends, but I know I always talked to them. When I was small, they were usually dolls. When I got older they were characters from the books I read, and I would imagine myself interacting with the characters in the books as I played outside by myself. I was an only child until I was ten.

When my brother was born my imaginary friends disappeared. But when he was about two, my brother developed one named Boo-boo. Boo-boo was blamed for everything naughty my brother did.


brakel2 profile image

brakel2 2 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Author

Hi WannaB Thanks for the story of your imaginary friends. I love to hear about these friends. Maybe you had them as you were an only child for a while. The names fascinate me, like your brother's Boo-boo. I appreciate your stopping by, reading and sharing. I don't think I have met you, and it is nice to have this pleasure. I will stop by soon. Blessings, Audrey


swilliams profile image

swilliams 2 years ago from Arizona

Wow! what a great article. I love the list that you provided which displayed the reason why some children have imaginary friends. Very useful voted up! Tweeted out!


brakel2 profile image

brakel2 2 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Author

Hi swilliams You really make me feel good by your enthusiasm over this hub. I had fun writing it and learning along the way some special stories about imaginary friends. I never had an imaginary friend, and I wish I could have indulged in that playtime. Thanks for sharing it with others. Blessings, Audrey


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

I had to come back to this intriguing hub. I recently talked to another mother of an only child whose daughter is now a teenager. Like my child, she had a very active imagination, and she enjoyed an imaginary brother whom she called "deaf Joey." This imaginary brother had a cochlear implant (!) and played soccer; the mother would have to stop the car and let the imaginary brother out so he could attend his soccer practices. I loved hearing about how adventurous that young girl's mind was. She is now a very gifted student and well adjusted.


brakel2 profile image

brakel2 2 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Author

Hi Flourish - This story is so interesting, especially the cochlear implant part and the soccer. It actually is kind of humorous. She sounds highly intelligent, and you mention she is gifted. Maybe the intelligent ones have imaginary playmates. I never had one. and I wish that I had enjoyed an imaginary friend. I am so glad you stopped back to tell me this story, Maybe I can expand my hub, or write a twin hub. Which reminds me, yesterday, I learned of twins, one black and one white. It is supposed to be a one in a million chance. The picture was pinnable. Thanks again for your comment. Have a good evening. Blessings, Audrey


peachpurple profile image

peachpurple 20 months ago from Home Sweet Home

Nope inever had any of this experience, butmy boy did once had been talking to his toys


brakel2 profile image

brakel2 20 months ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Author

Hi Peachy - Thanks for reading my imaginary friends story. I never had an imaginary friend either. Your son talks to his toys, and that sounds like a fun thing for kids with imagination. It makes me wish I had a friend when I was younger. It's fun to hear stories about them. Have a great day. I will be stopping by. Blessings, Audrey


Sed-me profile image

Sed-me 17 months ago from An undisclosed location.

Wow, so sad. I had always wanted to be one of those kids who made up a friend, but maybe it wasn't just as simple as a great imagination. What I did do was talk to all my stuffed animals in my mind. I was afraid I'd hurt them if I squished them or that they'd get lonely when I went off to school. I had one called "Big Bunny" that I only recently threw away b/c it just seemed to sad to discard it earlier. It was so worn though.

You gave such good information in this hub... I hope it will be useful to parents whose kids are in this situation.


brakel2 profile image

brakel2 17 months ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Author

Thank you so much, Sed-Me, for reading my hub and for the nice comments. I never had an imaginary friend, but I loved learning more about them and writing about their experience. It made me want an imaginary friend. You may have imaginary friends if you talk to them in your mind. You sound very attached to them and did not want to hurt them. You took care of them. Thanks for sharing those experiences. Blessings, Audrey


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 14 months ago from Long Island, NY

I found your hub very interesting Audrey. I had an imaginary friend when I was a child. I never realized that it can be a sign of creativity. But it makes sense. I grew up being creative in many ways. Not just with my writing, but also computer programming, and even making things such as a robot out of an erector set when I was young. Anyone remember those erector sets? It was like an earlier version of Legos.

One of the most amazing things was that later in life I met a girl who had the same childhood imaginary friend. Well, that is to say we named our imaginary friend with the same name. And it wasn't a common name either.


brakel2 profile image

brakel2 14 months ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Author

Hi Glenn - How nice of you to read my hub and to tell me about your imaginary friend. How amazing that you later found someone with the same unusual name as your imaginary friend. You are creative, and I remember erector sets. I feel like I missed out by not having an imaginary friend. It is a pleasure to know about others. Thank you. Have a great day. Blessings, Audrey


brakel2 profile image

brakel2 14 months ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Author

Hi Glenn - Two imaginary friends with the same unusual name is the gist of my comment.


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 14 months ago from Long Island, NY

Audrey, In reference to your reply, I don't think you missed out much. I don't really recall my imaginary friend being of much value to me. It was just an interesting experience to find someone else who chose the same name for her imaginary friend.

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