Imaginary Playmates

Why do children invent imaginary playmates; is it healthy? Find your answers by reading this article.

By the time your child becomes a preschooler, they are already full of imagination. Many use their imagination to invent themselves an imaginary friend. These invisible playmates can take any shape or form. They could be one of your child's toys, an animal, a human or anything else your child can think of. Your child's friend could be a character from a book, television show or movie.

There are many reasons as to why your child created an imaginary friend. If they are an only child, they could have done it for companionship. With both parents working these days, an imaginary friend can also keep a lonely child company. Some children use their invisible playmates to take the blame for something that they themselves have done. How can they get into trouble when their friend is the culprit? Others express their feelings or fears through their imaginary friend. For instance, a child could tell their parents that their friend is afraid of the dark and could they please leave the light on for him or her? This is helpful for the child who parents have high expectations of them.

Parents should realize that there is nothing odd or wrong about their child's relationship with an imaginary friend. This is a positive thing in their child's life. An imaginary friend can help a child develop better socialization skills. Because they are so used to interacting with their invisible playmate, they will have less of a problem getting along with other children.

Whatever you do, never ridicule the child or try to convince him or her that their imaginary friend is not real. To the child, their friend is very real and perhaps the only true friend they feel they have. Instead, try to respond to what your child says their friend needs or does. Play along, but wait until your child mentions their friend first. Don't inquire about the friend if your child doesn't mention it. The friend might disappear faster if they aren't the constant topic of discussion.

Before you know it, your child's imaginary friend will no longer be around, whether it is because your child has found new friends, or because they have simply outgrown the need for an invisible playmate. However long your child's imaginary friend is around, be assured that the invisible playmate has a positive impact on your child's feelings of security and development.

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