Friday, February 6, 2015

Imaginary Friends!

    Has this ever happened to you? You’re going through your daily routine, your toddler playing nicely near-by-- when all of a sudden you catch a conversation taking place: your little Janie chatting non-stop with Sarah. Who is Sarah? More to the point- Where is Sarah?

    Well, she’s Janie’s new imaginary friend. Now, before you freak out there are a few things to realize. Number one, this is very common. About 65 percent of youngsters between the ages of 3 and 5 create invisible friends, and some even maintain these friendships through age 7. Secondly, it’s normal. Your child has the perfect playmate who does what they want, when they want them to, maybe even taking the blame when little Janie does something she’s not supposed to.

    And while it’s natural for parents to question the reason for the new friend: “Is Janie lonely?” “Does Janie have trouble playing with real kids?” -- In most cases there’s no need for alarm. Imaginary friends help children develop their own identities as they skirt the line between what’s real and what’s pretend, allowing them to imagine how another human might react to a given situation. They also help kids cope with fears, and can even teach responsibility as your child looks out for the well-being of their invisible friend. “Mommy be careful, you almost sat on Sarah.”

    However, if you notice the imaginary friend becomes too much a part of your little one’s life-- to the exclusion of real life playmates, or if the invisible friend stays around once your child has entered elementary school, you may want to consult a professional to see if there are any real issues.

    It’s even cool for you to interact with Janie’s friend, just don’t overdo it and let her always know Sarah is pretend. She’s also an amazing manifestation of your child’s imagination and creativity. So every once in a while, set an extra plate at the table and you may be surprised what you’ll learn from your little one and his/her new friend.

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