When should children stop having imaginary friends?

Children's imaginations help to build their creativity, but when do you say no to imaginary friends?

28  Answers

3,133 38

Never. My G-Grandmother told me to never stop talking to my friend. She said he was not imaginary, but sent from God to watch over me. She said we all have spirit guides, but many adults can't see them so they no longer believe. Adults can't see because they were told to stop looking, stop believing. She said, just cause adults can't see them doesn't mean they are not there.

12
123 3

Was I supposed to say no? Does that mean I have to get rid of mine?

9
9 22

I think children grow out of that when they are ready to. I don't think telling them they cant have an imaginary friend is healthy. Children are children. Quit trying to make them grow up faster than they need to. Already there are so many things in this world that will hurt our children that really imaginary friends are last on my list.

9
74 21

Who are we to squash a child's imagination, and to tell them when they can no longer use that imagination. Think to your selves for a moment, is it really hurting anything? Or do some people just think it is weird and socially unacceptable. I would never tell my daughter not to play and pretend. Just think where we would be if some famous people were told not to dream and imagine ( Picasso, The Wright brothers, Leonardo Da Vinci ) I say they will grow out of the imaginary friends on their own and who cares what age that is, we all grow, learn and develop in different ways and at a different passe.

7
0 2

I don't see any problem with imainary friends, if it keeps them happy, let them be...

4
0 38

I only wish I had the imagination still that my 3 year old possess. Imaginary Friend...Imaginary World....Bless his little imagination and may it carry him to where his heart his happy for as long as he is blessed enough with the innocence that allows it to exist!!!!

4
4 0

usually as parents, no matter how small our kids are , we are not able to occupy them through and through, so imaginery friends keep them company and occupied. I believe kids tend to grow out of them as they grow and as reality dawns on them. Unless otherwise the kid grows maybe to about 8-10years, then it might be a worry, but as long as they are small lets let them enjoy their small world

4
19 5

When they are ready to. At 28 years old I'll still practice conversations out loud when I'm by myself and it probably looks like I'm talking to an imaginary friend but I'm doing exactly what children do - practicing my social skills. As adults, when we practice a speech in a mirror - we're doing the same thing - we just look at it differently.

3
16 17

As long as children are not telling you that their imaginary friends are telling them that they should hurt anything, I think it's really healthy thing. Imaginary friends help children work through things and keep tht healthy imagination flowing. These days our children are losing their imagination too quickly as other children feel the push to grow up so soon.
Let them have their friends, unseen or not!! Just go with it. You don't have to talk to the friend, but give validation to your child. I think we've all had some imagination and let's let them use it! Nothing wrong with having a friend! :D

3
591 33

The idea that you should put a timer on and say "okay, they've hit 8 years old, not more imagination for them" seems a bit odd to me.
Obviously, if a child immerses themselves in their imaginary world to the extent that it stops them interacting with others and causes problems socially that's not good. But the average imaginary friend which contributes to the child's already existing social and emotional development can be a very positive thing. For a child it is a way of defining who they are as a person, practising and conquering social situations they find difficult and can provide a comfortable stability when other things around them change.
My 5 year old daughter just got her first school report which said she was very sociable, a natural leader, empathetic, caring and creative. She also has a whole bunch of imaginary friends, many of whom her real friends have also adopted into their games. When she has friends over, you can often find them all in the garden teaching "tricks" to Pip, Ivy's imaginary puppy. To me, this only enhances Ivy's social life and development of identity and confidence. I'm in no hurry to see the imaginary friends go.

1
2 3

Never - your child may be gifted. If it's not causing him/her harm, then let it be. I believe in the ability to see what others can't (although I don't regularly). Wait for your child to decide. Unless it's causing problems at school there's really no harm in it.

1
16 15

well your never too old for an imaginary, but friends well depends on the child, their surroundings, and environment.

1
1

I've had an imaginary friend for years now, I have a really close real life friends as well (who also have imaginary friends) I do believe there is no age limit on this.

0
    Edit  |   Delete  |   Get Your Widget
9 4

I never got rid of mine. Its the only way I can stay sane in the world I now live in. Im also a writer so it helps a lot with the characters in my stories. Imagination can take you anywhere. And the characters you make up along the way - you will never forget them.

0
4 16

My daughter is 9 yrs old and she has had many IFs.(to many to count) I think they started when she was about 2 yrs old. She use to "hold "Stuart Little in her hand. ( he has been in Mexico for about 3-4 years now, he was going to come back for thanksgiving and Christmas but he missed the plane). She plays with them all the time. It does worry me sometimes, shell be going into 4Th grade and I don't want her to be made fun of. She knows they are to stay home while shes at school. but they do show up at P.E sometimes. I know little by little they will go away, at her own pace.

0
1 9

My son is 8 years old today. He is my one and only. It was only in the last year that I really became aware of his imaginary friend. I knew he was a social butterfly & a chatterbox but I didn't know he was actually talking to a "friend." I kept overhearing him when he was taking a shower, he would always talk low, kind of like a whisper but a little louder. I am divorced and my dynamic with my ex-husband has been harshly strained for many years now so I make an extra effort to keep a special type of line of communication open with my son. So after his shower one night, getting ready for bed I asked him who he talks to in the shower. I saw the bit of embarrassment on his face but IMMEDIATELY assured him it was okay I just was curious who his friend was. After he saw that there was nothing to be embarrassed about & that I was treating it so casual he started telling me about his friend & the stuff they chat about. Oddly enough his imaginary friend has been "based" off of a real life classmate of his even with the same name. After making sure this was really more of a coincidence than an infatuation in an extremely open & carefree conversation with my son I realized this was just another part of growing up & another stepping stone for me as a mother. I'm so grateful I have the knowledge and openmindedness to know this is SO NORMAL. I actually thought it might be a bit strange if he DIDN'T have a "friend" at this point. It's his way of entertaining himself and practicing communicating. As long as he isn't using this "friend" as a crutch for bad behavior, it's not causing him to act harmful or abnormal (different from his usual happy self) I see NOTHING wrong with it. I even will tell his friend "Hello!" while doing laundry now while he's in the shower. This world can be so so hurtful, ugly, demoralizing and just cruel. Childhood, as ever so brief as it is, is the ONLY time I think we are TRULY FREE, TRULY INNOCENT and the happiest. Our kids are going to be subject to ENOUGH "normality" that can easily suck every drop of that happiness away. Embrace your child's creativity and imagination, it's been proven time & again that it makes for a more successful more well adjusted adult. Let that innocence and freedom shine for as long as it can!! I'm sure you'll realize if it becomes a problem, which is highly doubtful!

0
4 66

I had an imaginary friend when I was a kid,say, 3-4 yeras old.For me, he was no imaginary because I played with him midnight or noontime.The only problem was that,nobody can see him,only me.So when i got my own children,they too talk to theirr imaginary friend because it can help build their creativity.If it doesn't hurt them,so why not? let them have their friend...later in,they can outgrow it and be with real friends...:)

0
3 10

It's their imagination. I'm not sure anyone else can stop it. Seems like "the small stuff" to me. Time will take of such things on it's own.

0
6 17

I have never, and never will, encourage my children to give up their imaginary friends. To me, I'm encouraging their creativity and imagination. I often encourage my kids to draw their friends. I'm turning 37 soon, and I still 'talk' to 'imaginary friends'. My 18 yr old daughter does the same. Though, I'd say it is more along the lines of talking to the characters we both create and write. Both of us write a lot, nearly constantly. In my case, I talk to all my characters, that's how I develop them before putting them down on paper. It helps bring the characters to 'life'. They 'tell' me how they feel, how they'd react, and I write. So long as they aren't encouraging bad or destructive things, then what difference does it make? I'm a firm believer in using ones imagination and thinking 'outside the box'. Call them what you will. Guardian Angels, Spirit Guides, Imaginary Friends, Loved Ones that have passed on and stuck around to guide the child, it doesn't matter in my book.

0
23 74

a kids imagination is a very health thing !! i would say never tell them to stop with the imaginary friends thin unless they are older and its getting in the way of things !! like preventing the from doing their best in school and stuff !! a childs imagination is so awesome !! they get to be so creative as they grow older ... i would NEVER stop their imagination .. i feel bad for kids that their parents never let them have or use theirs !!

0
23 74

i wish i still had my childhood imagination !! i do like to makebelieve sometimes with my kids tho ! its still kind of fun !!

8 81

I disagree with people saying that well adjusted kids shouldn't have imaginary friends. I know plenty of VERY well adjusted kids, with healthy families, and no issues at home at all, that have imaginary friends. I never had any, and neither does my daughter, however I wouldn't see anything wrong with it if she did. In my opinion is more a matter of the kid's play style. Some kids enjoy make believe stuff, others like more to play with legos, others like to paint, others like to watch TV... some like to play with imaginary friends. Of course, if it reaches 15 years old and they still have imaginary friends... OOPS. lol

0
0 1

when they are ready to move up another level they will get rid of them when they dont need them!!!

0
51 20

My youngest daughter (of 4 girls) is currently 4 and the first one to throw us this curve-ball.
So far, 'Rose' and 'Flower' have only played with her at Pre-School, they don't come home or anything like that. When she added 'Snowvia' and 'Brinn' to her I.F. list, I became a little concerned that she was substituting too much I.F. interactions for real ones, so I had a discussion with her teacher,
Turns out 'Snowvia' is real! (Xenovia - who saw that coming??)
It looks like she's transitioning very nicely, albeit at her own pace, from her internal to external world.

She knows Rose and Flower are not real, but she has a lot of fun with them anyway. They're great, they love playing whatever she wants, and they don't hog any of the toys.

0
0 23

Heres a link to the super nanny website about imaginary friends. http://www.supernanny.co.uk/Advice/-/Health-and-Development/-/4-to-13-years/The-magic-of-imaginary-friends.aspx I started to worry about my wee girl talking to Sam Wiggle - the yellow Wiggle' alot so went in search of whether it was normal or not. I have read on some other site that they can go as quickly as they come and eventually grow out of them.

0
11 22

I was starting to wonder this myself. My oldest has had an imaginary friend and a whole imaginary world since he was a few years old. We would constantly hear about Ick-ack and his rainbow world on the moon which was cute until he hit his 6th birthday in December 2009 and when he turned 7 I started to think maybe I should discourage it. We've never really encouraged it though. Never set an extra place at the table or buckled up the seatbelt for the I.F. or anything like that.

You can imagine my surprise when he informed me one day in a very matter of fact way in Feb. of this year (aged just over 7) that Ick-ack was dead! We haven't heard about her since. We do occasionally hear about his rainbow world but it's not very often these days and usually in response to something his younger brother has said about his purple world to try and keep the upper hand in the mine is better than yours thing that siblings engage in.

I guess if it's not hurting anyone and they aren't being picked on for it then I'd say let it go and they will abandon their friend when they are ready.

Now I just need to figure out how to get my now 6yo to stop sucking his thumb :os

0
15 17

Never would be my response. Can you state with clarity that the 'imaginary' friends our children perceive are not their guardian angels? Can you really know for sure in what form a guardian angel would protect you? Just my two cents. If it helps them, great. Maybe when they are older as in like 7 or turning 10, one can maybe direct the conversation in this way to make them realize they are not alone. But do we really know when we make connection with our heavenly back-up team and when it is just 'imaginary friends'? Better have a 'heavenly back-up team' even if at first in form of imaginary friends than being depressed and try to deal with live's set-backs all on one's own. Childhood depression is on the rise and child suicide is ripe. If one has a 'back-up' team there is hope. Just my two cents.

View More
1 12

I believe that normal well adjusted children do not have the need for imaginary friends. I have 4 sisters and none of us had imaginary friends. I have 4 children and non of them have imaginary friends. It just makes me think that the child is in his/her own little world and trying to escape reality somehow. If the imaginary friends thing goes past beginning school age like 5 or 6 I would definitely worry.

-1
0 39

at the age of 8

-2
591 33

why 8? That's very specfic!

19 19

Children should not have imaginary friends.

-2
19 5

Um...why? Context would be good.

View More

Join Circle of Moms

Sign up for Circle of Moms and be a part of this community! Membership is just one click away.

Join Circle of Moms