Why do children have imaginary friends?
At the age of three, your child’s imagination will become very active and you should not be surprised if he has an imaginary friend. Your child may have an imaginary friend because he might be lonely, since he may not have started school and is looking for companionship. Having imaginary friends is his way of getting over the loneliness. Your child might also want control and this is one way with which your child will have full control. He might also have an imaginary friend because he knows that his imaginary friend will accept his thoughts and ideas. Kids have a hard time expressing themselves because they do not know how people will react to them, but their imaginary friends will always react in a positive manner. However, if your child prefers to play with his imaginary friend when he has the option to play with other real friends, you should definitely look into the matter.
Imaginary friends will help your child
Imaginary friends will help your child practice all the manners he has learnt. He will practice sharing and practice talking in an appropriate manner. These are important skills that your child needs to practice. According to your child, his imaginary friend is also helping him to build his self-confidence, since his imaginary friend will listen to everything he has to say. Your child’s imaginary friend allows your child to display his emotions and see his feelings. For example, if your child is afraid of cats, he might claim that his imaginary friend is afraid of cats. This is a way that your child will demonstrate to himself how he feels and thinks. You may be surprised, but there are many positive effects that imaginary friends will have on your child.
What you can do as a parent to help?
As a parent you should not ask about your child’s imaginary friend if he does not mention it to you. If your child does tell you about his imaginary friend, you should be supportive of it. Do not include his imaginary friend in activities unless your child says to. Also remember that if your child asks you to play with him and his imaginary friend, you should play, but let your child direct the way of playing. However, you should not allow your child to blame his imaginary friend for the things your child does himself. For example if he has not put away his toys and blames his imaginary friend for that; you should try to put a stop to it. Until about the age of five, the line between fantasy and reality is not clear and some children still have imaginary friends at the age of 10. Most of all as a parent you should not encourage imaginary friends, but should accept them.
Imaginary friends are something that many children have. The idea of having imaginary friends is part of a child’s healthy development. Your child has a very vivid imagination and he enjoys playing with imaginary people. Thus, you should allow him to play with his imaginary friends and help him through one of the many phases he will go through as a child.