Imaginary Friends; What Parents Need to Know
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..
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Just for fun
Too much spare time
Did you ever have an invisible playmate
- Imaginary Friends | Psychology Today
Are invisible friends a sign of social problems? By Eileen Kennedy-Moore, Ph.D....
- The Real Reasons Kid Create Imaginary Friends | Parenting | Disney Family.com
Find out why children create imaginary friends