Does your Child Have Imaginary Friends #A2ZChallenge

2 out of 3 children have an imaginary friend which they may invite over to introduce to you. Do these friends help them or are they a reason to worry?


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Back then my 3 and a half year old was lazing on the couch and busy chatting with her father. I was in the kitchen and suddenly she called me with panic in her voice. I left all the work that kept me occupied and rushed to see what had happened to her. She was almost on the verge of crying.

Me: What happened baby, all well?

She: Papa sat on my friend.

Me: Who friend, it’s just you and papa and you guys were chatting and laughing away.

She: No Mumma, that was before he sat on my friend. My friend is hurt now.

I was actually taken aback as I could not see a 3rd or rather a 4th person in the living room other than the three of us. I tried to pacify her and then asked her to explain the whole scenario calmly to me. She said that she was playing with her friends FIDKA and SHERNAMAZ. She introduced them to her father and he recorded a video of them with her. After the video was done, her father did not see Fidka and he sat on him causing him much pain.

I was taken aback as though I am viewing some paranormal activity or were these the effects of me watching late night movie. Yes, Conjuring was being aired the previous night but I could not manage to watch the whole movie as I got scared. I was still in a trans as to what was happening and my husband showed me the video of my daughter and her imaginary friends. Yes, it may seem funny and scary but as per research on cognitive and developmental psychology kids between 3 to 5 have there imaginary friends and world. Piaget had discovered and validated it decades back.

As a medical professional and healthcare analyst, I was curious to do some in-depth study on this. Also, I interviewed my friends with children of similar ages whether they had ever witnessed this. A few days and a lot of research later, I was much at ease and well educated about this issue.

Imaginary friends are very common in children. 65% of children play with them. Click To Tweet

Few Interesting Insights About Imaginary Friends:

While boys mostly make male imaginary friends, girls make both male and female imaginary friends. These friends are usually friends solely made through a child’s imagination. They come in all shapes and sizes. They could be someone the child already knows, or a character from a storybook, or even their favourite toy. These friends often visit the child or may stay with them all the time. They may only be present in certain areas like the playhouse or the couch. But yes they are purely out of a child’s imagination.

The reason why children make these imaginary friends is special and unique to the one who befriends them. But one reason that is quite obvious is … to get rid of loneliness. When a lonely child thinks of a person who is with them all the time they are happy that they have someone to play with them all the time. This is why children who are first born or have no siblings are more inclined to play with imaginary friends. (This is what happened with my daughter).

Another reason which is very common to make imaginary friends is having a person to blame for their bad behaviour. Some typical questions, who messed up the room, who left the lights switched on, who broke the window, who walked with dirty shoes can get answers like, “I do not know. Mr. nobody did it. Miss X must have done it. My friend was having a bad day he/she did it.”

Other reasons why a child has imaginary friends is because they support and listen to the child, can do things which the child cannot do, stays with the child and belongs only to the child. Does this ring a bell as a parent 🙂

How Imaginary Friends Help a Child:

Did you know that imaginary friends help a child to explore the world of make-believe? The way they talk and play with their imaginary friend can tell a lot about how they feel. This just gives an insight into the child’s inner world with their likes and dislikes. It is believed that children who have these friends are:

  • Socially more aware than others. They can easily put themselves in other’s shoes. Thus they see things differently and cope with situations easily
  • Creative and imaginative and show interest in magical stories and fantasies
  • More focused on a person’s personality than on the visual appearance

Children with imaginary friends grow up to be adults who are empathetic and care about the other person's needs. Click To Tweet

Should You be Concerned if Your Child has Imaginary Friends?

My daughter outgrew her imaginary friends by her 4th birthday. Since then, she has never spoken of any other imaginary person. If you find out that your child has an imaginary friend then try to ask them questions. You never know you may learn something new about your children like their concerns, fears and wishes. But some instances like the imaginary friend being real or the friend is a bully, or your child has suffered some traumatic event because of the imaginary friend are reasons to worry. In this case, you may want to seek a doctor’s advice.

Did you grow up with imaginary friends? Does your child have imaginary friends?

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Shubhra Rastogi Written by:

Well, about me I can say that I am a certified dentist, healthcare analyst, medical writer and above all a mother of a 6-year-old. Most of my day to day activities revolve around her and she is my inspiration to start this blog. As a mother, I experimented with a lot of new things for my little one in a quest to find the best for her. I just want to share my experiences of being a happy and content mum.

38 Comments

  1. April 10, 2019
    Reply

    Do not know how to react. Since you are a medical professional and have done your part of the analysis I feel a bit at ease but the conjuring effect still exists 😛 !

    • Shubhra Rastogi
      April 10, 2019
      Reply

      🙂 Thanks for visiting by

  2. April 10, 2019
    Reply

    I have experienced the same thing. Nice that you brought it up. My 6 years old always talk about her already existing friends talking to her while playing when actually there is no one around.

    • Shubhra Rastogi
      April 10, 2019
      Reply

      Thanks, Saba. Don’t worry she will outgrow of this soon.

  3. April 10, 2019
    Reply

    As long as it is not harming their mental and physical it should be fine. Isn’t it? Btw your daughter is very cute 🙂

    • Shubhra Rastogi
      April 10, 2019
      Reply

      Exactly my point. In fact, these friends are supposed to increase their creativity.

  4. April 10, 2019
    Reply

    Really educating. Never knew and never experienced this phenomenon. So many different things happen in human mind! Thank you for writing a post.

    • Shubhra Rastogi
      April 10, 2019
      Reply

      Thanks Abhijit

  5. April 10, 2019
    Reply

    A nice and educating post. Never heard such a thing as imaginary friend and never thought this type of phenomenon happens outside movies. Thank you for writing a post on this aspect of human mind.

    • Shubhra Rastogi
      April 10, 2019
      Reply

      Thanks Abhijit

  6. April 10, 2019
    Reply

    Yes, children do make imaginary friends when they are kids and there is nothing wrong with that. Actually, I have even heard that it is an indication of an imaginative mind. I enjoyed watching the video and I must say your child is extremely cute.

    • Shubhra Rastogi
      April 10, 2019
      Reply

      Yes, it is an indication of a creative mind. Thanks for visiting by.

  7. April 10, 2019
    Reply

    Shubhra, I have a six year old, and I often see him playing alone onversing with imaginary characters. But this was something that has been researched so extensively was beyond my knowledge. Thanks for bringing this up.

    • Shubhra Rastogi
      April 10, 2019
      Reply

      You are welcome Anupriya

  8. April 10, 2019
    Reply

    Wow, this post of yours caught my attention definitely. My kid says little Krishna and Hanuman are his best friends and they wait to take him into the dream world whenever he sleeps. Most of my blogs are around the same theme only. Sometimes, he tells me the places, sometimes he just won’t talk about the dream world. Even today after 6 years, he is eager to enter dreamworld with his friends. From last year, he has imaginary students all around him and he names them on his own and teaches them what he has learned during the day. I have a little teacher at the house who spends time in front of his blackboard whole day

    • Shubhra Rastogi
      April 10, 2019
      Reply

      You have one creative child Suhasini.

  9. April 10, 2019
    Reply

    Interesting post but didn’t understand how this fits into the mental health spectrum?

    • Shubhra Rastogi
      April 10, 2019
      Reply

      Usually, children outgrow imaginary friends. These also prove to be creative for them. However, if an adult shows these hallucinations then this may be an indication of bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and, most notably, schizophrenia.
      In case you are worried that a child shows weird behaviour then please do seek a doctor’s advice. Thanks for visiting by.

  10. April 10, 2019
    Reply

    I am glad you shared this, I have experienced this with my five-year-old daughter.
    Trust I cannot even watch a Horror movie trailer, and when she said mama see my friend is calling you in midnight, you can imagine the effect it had on me… Initially I was very worried but later on, I discovered kids have their own imaginary land and it is normal.
    She does show interest in magical stories and fantasies, read books with me. So maybe she imagines the characters around her.
    Thank you so much for this one:)

    • Shubhra Rastogi
      April 10, 2019
      Reply

      Don’t worry Priyanka, she will definitely outgrow of this.

  11. Rashi Roy
    April 10, 2019
    Reply

    Yes, I have seen my 4 year old talk and play with his imaginary friends. I find it normal. Glad you shared the details and the research behind it.

    • Shubhra Rastogi
      April 10, 2019
      Reply

      I am happy that you found this helpful.

  12. April 10, 2019
    Reply

    I really got goosebumps while reading the first part of your experience. But a medical professional knows best and even my husband, who is also a doctor keeps saying that imagination is a way of blaming his mischief onto someone else. Thank you for the assurance.

    • Shubhra Rastogi
      April 10, 2019
      Reply

      Ya imagination is there way to bring out an array of characters in their little world where they seem to have total control of the imaginary friends.

  13. April 10, 2019
    Reply

    My brothers had imaginary friends that they introduced to the family. I’m glad to report even 55 odd years ago, my parents didn’t find it abnormal. In moderation, it’s often a healthy way for kids to keep from getting bored.
    Loved the video! 🙂

    • Shubhra Rastogi
      April 10, 2019
      Reply

      Thanks Corinne

    • Shubhra Rastogi
      April 10, 2019
      Reply

      Children usually stop playing with make-believe friends – whether they have one, several or even a whole family of them – when they’re ready to move on. Imaginary friends are most likely to be around for several months, but they could be a feature of your child’s life for up to three years.

  14. April 10, 2019
    Reply

    Absolutely, I have my son often talking and pretend playing with his imaginary friends. I think these things come quite naturally to the kids. Their imagination takes them to the most interesting places and then there are stories and stories to tell.

    • Shubhra Rastogi
      April 10, 2019
      Reply

      Absolutely Kushal. And it is creative as well.

  15. April 10, 2019
    Reply

    I remember my sister talking to her imaginary friends when she was a kid. Dont think my son had them. Interesting and informative post.

    • Shubhra Rastogi
      April 10, 2019
      Reply

      Thanks, Shilpa!

  16. April 10, 2019
    Reply

    Not only did I have imaginary friends, when I was a child, but so did my son, when he was younger. I am glad the experts agree that it is normal and part of the develop of a child’s imagination.

    • Shubhra Rastogi
      April 11, 2019
      Reply

      See Jeanine how creative you and your son are 🙂

  17. April 11, 2019
    Reply

    I never had an imaginary friend and neither did my children One of my grandson’s had a friend and grandson would always tell his mom the friend did it. LOL

    • Shubhra Rastogi
      April 11, 2019
      Reply

      A blame friend. He found an escape goat. 🙂

  18. April 11, 2019
    Reply

    Dear Shubhra , I ur Mom, at the age of 61 , still have some imaginary friends and to these I talk and confess when I’m lonely, depressed or a bit nervous of something that might happen . & I think it runs in our family…. as when you were around 3-4 yrs old you too would be totally engrossed in ur world as those days I used to be too busy (with ur younger brothers n the house work) and couldn’t give you much attention . Now I’m recalling that U never troubled me n loved to & were better off to be on ur own …with contented expressions on ur face .U have never been a troublemaker or as a matter of fact even demanded special attention … as u were happy amongst ur imaginary friends ….
    And now when u all have flown out of this nest …in different directions …I feel I’m all the time talking n keeping myself busy with my imaginary friends !!!

    Thank God it’s normal!!!😄

    • Shubhra Rastogi
      April 11, 2019
      Reply

      Yes, guess it runs in our family. It is a sign of creativity and imagination. And yes we are creative. aren’t we?

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