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?
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 their 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.
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
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?
A – Autism
B – Bronchiolitis
C – Celiac Disease
D – Dyslexia
E – Eating Disorders
F – Fever
G – GERD