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Guide 2 Parenting   >   Imaginary Friends

Imaginary Friends


Many children have an imaginary friend, especially between the ages of three and five. Because they do not understand why their child is creating an imaginary person, it is not at all unusual for parents to be concerned. Many parents end up feeling frustrated at their child, and can worry about whether it might be unhealthy.

As a loving and caring parent, the first step is to understand that it is quite common and normal for children to have an imaginary friend, or even perhaps more than one imaginary friend. You also should realize that it's perfectly safe and healthy.

Imaginary friends can in fact be an important part of growing up. It's an important creative aspect of a child. And the chances are, even if you do not remember having one yourself, you probably did.

Part of this reason for this is that it is very hard for a young child to explain themselves or communicate well with adults. The imaginary friend is thus used as a gateway of communication between parent and child. The use of an imaginary friend can help your child to deal with emotions and problems which he would otherwise struggle to handle.

For example, think about when your child is feeling lonely, bored, or simply in need of attention, particularly when you are not around. These emotions can make any child, especially a child under the age of five, feel upset. The imaginary friend is used by the child to help deal with these feelings. An imaginary friend is the method a young child can use to handle the emotions that come with changing school, moving house, or the arrival of a new baby who is getting all the attention now.

Imaginary friends are also used for other types of emotional support too. If a child feels unaccepted or over-controlled by his parents, then he may invent an imaginary person who he pretends treats him as the way he wished mommy and daddy treated him

Another example is fear. Many children use imaginary friends or other imaginary situations to overcome their fears. For example, a child might create an imaginary animal such as a dog, to help him overcome a fear of real dogs.

The most important thing to remember when considering this issue is that children are not like adults. Because they do not have the life experience of adults, they use different methods to cope with uneasy feelings. Once you understand that, you can and should be able embrace your child's imaginary friend, and find out more about by asking questions. You might be surprised at just much you can learn about your child as a result.


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