Why Do Children Create Imaginary Friends?


When parents are first confronted with their children’s imaginary friends, it is often a situation of surprise and unfamiliarity. Please Parents, relax! Recent studies show that there is nothing to worry about.

Imaginary friends are characters that do not exist. They may be represented by a doll or stuffed animal, or they may be completely invisible.

Although some parents may worry at first, there is nothing to fear, as 50 to 65% of children have one between the ages of two and eight.

This situation is not something pathological or bad. It is a completely normal scenario, which may even appear several times in a child’s life. “Through a dog, a TV character, but just as they come, they leave,” assures educational psychologist Jesús Ramírez.

What Should Parents Do When Faced With An Imaginary Friend?

Parents should not worry about their child having an imaginary friend. The best thing to do is to act normally, although they should be attentive to the development of the situation. In this way, children will not feel rejected, judged or embarrassed by their imagination.

In the same study conducted by researchers at U.S. universities, they found that only 26% of parents knew that their child had an imaginary friend. This is because children often hide their creations from the adult world. It is mainly when they are alone in their rooms that these characters come to life.

When To Worry About The Presence Of An Imaginary Friend?

Although the presence of an imaginary friend is completely harmless, some situations may push the limits and require parents to step in.

What Do Children Talk About With Their Imaginary Friend?

Parents need to observe what kind of conversations children have with their imaginary friends. They should not be aggressive conversations or of a negative nature. It is good to ask your children about their relationship with their imaginary friends through friendly chat.

Imaginary Friends Should Not Replace Real Friends

Another factor to keep in mind is that children should not substitute friendship with real friends for friendship with an imaginary friend. Social relationships have many benefits; they foster the values of respect, tolerance, and cooperation. In contrast, decisions in a child’s relationship with an imaginary friend are one-sided, and there is no room for debate of ideas.

Parents should also be concerned if the child exhibits aggressive or confrontational behaviors when the imaginary friend is involved or if it persists beyond age 8.

Imaginary friends are a product of children’s extraordinary imagination, so the more creative fantasies they have, the more likely an imaginary friend will appear. There are even studies that show that these children tend to be more creative and empathetic in adulthood.

Parents need to remember that imaginary friends leave or come and go sporadically. Their definitive disappearance is usually after the age of seven and/or eight when the child’s thinking is more logical and rational.

At TOLEY RANZ, we believe in and support the power of imagination and creativity in children for its benefits in social relationships and later in adulthood.

Copyright © by Anke Otto-Wolf - 2021 All Rights Reserved