Imaginary Friends, Not Enemies

              Parents often become concerned when they find their child talking to and playing with an imaginary being.  There is a social stigma around imaginary friends.  Parents worry that their children have a mental disorder or those who have imaginary friends create them because they are having trouble making real life friends but research shows that these concerns are not always valid. Recent studies have shown that there are more benefits to having imaginary friends than there are consequences. The existence of an imaginary friend can be a significant part of childhood when it comes to development and communication.  Research by Dr. Evan Kidd indicates that around 60% of children have at least one imaginary friend.  These children tend to be the first born or they are only children, these imaginary friends may come out of necessity for development and communication until the child can join a larger peer group.

            Dr. Even Kidd summarized that children who have imaginary friends are better at communicating their points to adults, and have better conversational skills.  This may be due to the fact that children with imaginary friends must create a dialogue making them better at guessing what the other person is thinking. Kidd states that, “Children with imaginary friends have a lot of practice at inventing interactions between their imaginary friends and themselves…We think that this is what facilitates their development of conversational skills – being in charge of both sides of the conversation.”

            When parents realize their children have an imaginary friend they should not become distressed.  Imaginary friends help to grow a child’s imagination.  These friends have many positive effects on a child and can be a useful developing tool.  They can help guide a child through a new, strange and frightening world.  They allow them to investigate different aspects of themselves and face fears.  Imaginary play can be an inspiring and ornamental activity for children. In a society filled with video games, television, and computers, Imaginary friends can serve as a much-needed break from reality.

 Katie Hasiak


~ by knhasiak on October 22, 2009.

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