‘Imaginary friends,’ who are they? It could be anyone, a doll, a teddy bear, an alien from outer space, or playmate of his/her age. What role do they play in your toddler’s life? Is it common? As a parent, many questions might encircle your mind. Hearing your child animatedly chatter with someone who you cannot see, might be worrisome. But brush aside your concerns, because there are many benefits of having an imaginary friend.
The cause of Imaginary friends
From where and how do these ‘imaginary friends’ spring into their lives? It more often than not results from buried emotions that your preschooler has difficulty in expressing. Don’t lose sleep worrying about whether your child is lonely, because having an ‘imaginary friend’ is a creative exploration of sorts.
There are many benefits that a child reaps from these ‘imaginary friends.’ So don’t frown upon it, rather delight in the progress that you witness.
1. It makes socializing easy
Did you know that your little one is capable of carrying out a conversation? Listen in, to those chats the innovativeness of their conversations, will leave you pleasantly surprised. It boosts confidence and enhances their social skills. That’s not all, these conversations also orient a child on conflict resolution and problem-solving.
2. It helps in vocabulary enrichment
Aren’t we always aiming to teach our toddler new words? But how does one achieve that? It’s through ongoing chitter-chatter with a child? With chaotic schedules, this somewhere gets neglected. But the presence of an ‘Imaginary friend’ gets your toddler talking all day long. In this process, new words are learned, and conversing becomes easier than before.
3. It is a source of comfort
When a preschooler is unable to voice out their feelings, he/she derives solace from these conversations. That foreboding sense of gloominess is eliminated and those fears are soothed. Your child has successfully established a relationship that offers him/her security at a tender age. Isn’t this emotional development a welcome sign? In a way, these friendships demonstrate to a child the art of being loving, compassionate, and expressive.
4. It offers a sense of control
Like adults, even kids like to be in control. But it’s not too often that a situation goes in accordance with their wishes. Hence, having an imaginary friend enables a child to be in charge of a situation. In an all-grown-up set-up, it’s the one relationship wherein the reigns of control are in their hands. This, in turn, teaches children a thing about handling and taking on responsibility.
5. It gives a child a confidante
A preschooler faces challenges that you as a parent may be unaware of. It could be a hidden fear, ill-treatment, lack of self-confidence, or sibling jealousy. A child voices out his/her deepest concerns in those conversations with an imaginary friend. Instead of having repressed feelings, discussing it is a better-suited option. At least with your child tugging around an imaginary friend, he/she is able to express those emotions.
As parents, it is important to handle the matter with sensitivity, so that you don’t offend your child. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind, if your child has an imaginary friend-
1. Be accepting
This isn’t just another problem to deal with. Therefore when your child speaks about their imaginary friend, don’t burst the bubble. Rather keenly hear, all that he/she says about their ‘imaginary friend’ it offers insights into their imaginations. If there is an instance, wherein your toddler wants the imaginary friend to be a part of the daily meal, comply by placing an additional plate on the table.
If your child blames any wrong-doing of theirs on the imaginary friend, take an alternate course of action. Instead of telling off your child, place the responsibility on his/her shoulders. Tell your little one even if the ‘imaginary friend’ is the culprit, he/she has to take up the responsibility.
3. Monitor the content of their conversations and play
In a way, an ‘imaginary friend’ helps reveal to a parent all that is going on in a child’s mind. Hence, it’s important to pay close attention to all that’s going on.
‘Imaginary friends’ are just another part and parcel of a child’s life. Don’t get yourself worked up, because there are many benefits of having an imaginary friend. Increased social interactions or a hectic schedule could result in their disappearance. The duration of their existence varies depending on the child’s state of mind, but while they are there it gets those wheels of imagination rolling.
Have a Question about a Preschooler’s behaviorial patterns or parenting in general ? Feel free to ask us.
This journey of parenting brings with it new challenges and surprises on a daily basis. Perhaps our recommendations could be perfectly suited for your child.