Imaginary Friends and Toddlers: What to Expect?

Toddler care, Imaginary Friends

Imaginary Friends and Toddlers: What to Expect?

We might see young children, mostly toddlers, playing with their imaginary friends. They might share stories with us about how they spend time with their imaginary companions. Usually, imaginary friends are animals, cartoon characters, or any stuffed toy that has come to life.

As per a study by the UW and University of Oregon psychologists, around 65% of kids by the age of 7 have an imaginary friend in their lives. So, what should parents do about it?

There is Nothing Wrong with Having Imaginary Friends

Children usually get imaginary figures because it gives them company all the time. Most children are aware that their friends are imaginary, but their friendships and sense of companionship are real.

You might notice your kids starting to have imaginary friends when they reach 2 or 3 years old. Coincidentally, that is also the age when their imagination starts developing. While parents might be concerned about their kids having imaginary friends, studies have shown that this is a normal part of their childhood. In fact, it can play an important role in a child’s development.

According to a study, 60% of children have an imaginary friend. Their imaginary companions can help them develop problem-solving skills, come up with new ideas, deal with loneliness, and manage their emotions.

Imaginary Companions Helps Kids Become More Confident

While many people worry that kids with imaginary kids will become more introverted and lonely, that is not the case. Children with imaginary companions can develop many skills, become more confident, and be much more creative. 

Most kids will keep their imaginary friends for a few days or a few years.

Therefore, parents won’t have to worry about it unless there are some red flags in a child’s development. You can monitor your child’s interaction with their friends to learn about your kid’s preferences, ideas, feelings, etc. Your child’s invisible friend can also help them empathize with others in a better way.

What are the Limitations?

Parents should actively take part in their child’s fantasies to build a strong relationship with them. You can ask them questions about their companions and play along with their fantasies. But it is vital to draw a line about the extent that you will indulge your kids with their invisible companions.

Your child should not use their imaginary friends to blame someone else for their actions. While there is nothing wrong with allowing your child’s “friend” to join you on a family trip, they shouldn’t stay at home during an important event because their friend wants to play.

There is nothing wrong with your kids enjoying the company of their friends. However, parents should watch out for any warning signs like depression, kids blaming their actions on their imaginary friends, etc. These can be early signs of psychological problems.

Seeking a Healthcare Professional’s Assistance

As a parent, if you notice any behavioral or psychological changes in your child due to their imaginary friend, you should consult a professional for assistance. You can contact the experts at Continuum Pediatrics at 817-617-8600 to find out more about your child’s health or schedule an appointment.