problem with imaginary friends

Tracie - posted on 01/30/2009 ( 8 moms have responded )

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my almost 3 y/o son has a few invisible playmates, no big deal. we enjoy it and we always play along, but now he wants to go to their houses and is demanding we drive him there.

has anyone had this problem? any ideas on how to handle it?

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Rebekah - posted on 01/30/2009

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I have heard that the best thing to do is turn it back on the child when you aren't sure how to respond. So, ask him where they live, what their houses are like, who lives there with them, etc and engage him in a conversation about his friends. Also, occasionally you can guide them to alternatives in their imaginary scenario, so you could suggest that since you can't take him to their house maybe he could invite them over to your house and suggest that he could make invitations or help you get a snack for his friends, or something like that. We still joke about the time that my dad left my imaginary friend, Lisa, at the park (I was stalling and saying she wasn't ready to go, so he said we were leaving without her) but *luckily* she managed to catch up to us on her bicycle.

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Jen - posted on 02/05/2009

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imaginary worlds involve imaginary driving and imaginary arriving at imaginary friends imaginary houses. Recently we moved and my youngest (3.5) said "Lizzy" wouldn't come over to play anymore because we moved. Lizzy wouldn't even talk on the phone with her.. i think they go through fazes where the line gets blurred a bit but for the most part they keep those imaginary friends until they are ready to let go of them.

Angela - posted on 02/05/2009

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www.familyresource.com



Young children often have imaginary friends. Sometimes they're human, other times they're animals, like the life-size rabbit in the old Jimmy Stewart movie, "Harvey." Sometimes the imaginary friend is an occasional visitor, stopping by only once every few days. But other times it may be a child's constant companion. Children may talk to their imaginary friends, draw with them, or even read books to them. And plenty of parents have had to set an extra place at the dinner table for the "friend." So are children's imaginary playmates cause for concern? In most cases, the answer is No. Imaginary friends are a pretty normal part of growing up, especially during the toddler years, and they serve several important functions:





They can be wonderful companions for pretend play, which is an important way to stimulate creativity and imagination. Having an invisible friend can make those long trips to the moon or back in time a little less lonely.

They can act as a child's trusted confidant when there's no one else to tell their secrets to. Even small children have issues that are too private to tell us.

They can help kids figure out the difference between right and wrong. Kids sometimes have a tough time stopping themselves from doing things they know are wrong. Blaming the imaginary friend for eating cookies before dinner is often a sign that the child understands right vs. wrong distinctions but isn't quite ready to assume complete responsibility for her actions.

They can give you some valuable insights into your child's feelings. Listening to your child bravely comfort an invisible friend who's about to get a shot may be a clue that your child is more afraid than she's letting on.



While it's generally perfectly fine to humor your child and go along with her claims about the existence of an imaginary friend, there are a few ground rules:





Don't let the "friend" be your child's only companion. Kids need to socialize with others their own ages. If your child seems to have no other friends or has no interest in being with her peers, talk to your pediatrician.

Don't let your child shift responsibility for everything bad to the friend. Saying that the friend is the one responsible for a nighttime accident is okay. Blaming the friend for a string of bank robberies isn't.

Treat the friend with respect. This means remembering his name, greeting him when you meet, and apologizing when you sit on him.

Don't use the friend to manipulate your child. That means no comments like "Maggie finished her dinner, why don't you finish yours?"

Angela - posted on 02/05/2009

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From wikipedia: According to several theories of psychology an understanding of a child's conversations with their imaginary friends can reveal a lot about the anxieties and fears of that child as well as the child's aspirations and perception of the . Some children report that their "imaginary friends" manifest themselves physically and are indistinguishable from "real" people, while others say that they only see their friends in their head.

Ellen - posted on 02/01/2009

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We have imaginary ants at our house. I like the suitcase idea since I'm tired of hearing there are ants in his pockets. It's a little freaky. He has a whole world with them..... They are not visiting as often now that he's making more real friends.

Audra - posted on 01/31/2009

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I wish I could give you some advice, but though my daughter had tons of imaginary friends, she never wanted to go to their houses. At preschool, though, she'd play with them and talk to them more than her classmates. I laugh now because it all happened 5 years ago. Once she even got angry with a teenager at Wendy's because he "sat on Spongebob."

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My daughter did the same thing when she was just about that age. When I told her that I could not take her to their house, she created an imaginary world which she entered by opening a suitcase!



Imaginary friends and worlds are harmless and at 7 she has decided that it is better if they stay in their world while she is at school, a friends house, etc.



Have Fun!

Tracie - posted on 01/30/2009

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great tips, i think those will work, thanks so much!
i love the story about your dad leaving lisa at the park - lol

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