Table of contents:
- The Role of Imaginary Friends in Child Development
- How Should Parents Respond to Children Who Have Imaginary Friends?
Most kids have probably had imaginary friends. This imaginary friend is not always a human figure, but can also be an animal with a certain name and character, or his favorite toy. Before parents feel scared, let's find out information about children's imaginary friends
Imaginary friends are friends made up by children in their imaginations. Movie characters, cartoons, or story books can be a source of children's imagination. However, it could be that the imaginary friend comes purely from the child's own mind.
Many parents are worried and think that a child with imaginary friends is lonely, has no real friends, or even has a mental disorder, such as schizophrenia. It's actually not like that, Bun.
The Role of Imaginary Friends in Child Development
Having imaginary friends during childhood is normal. Usually, children begin to have 1 or more imaginary friends as early as 2.5 years of age and can last up to 3–7 years of age. Don't worry, most kids already understand that their imaginary friends are pretenders.
This imaginary friend can indirectly provide children with entertainment, as well as support. Research has even shown that having imaginary friends is a he althy form of play and brings several developmental benefits.Here are some of them:
- Building children's social skills
- Improve children's creativity
- Helping children manage emotions
- Help the child to understand the situation
- Helping children manage conflicts around them
In addition, paying attention to your little one's interactions with their imaginary friends can also help you understand their fears and preferences. For example, if your imaginary friend is afraid of monsters under the bed, your little one may feel the same way.
However, you also need to know the situation to watch out for between your little one and their imaginary friend. Here are some signs that having an imaginary friend is no longer normal:
- Children have no friends or no longer interest in making friends in real life.
- The child looks scared of his imaginary friend and complains that his friend doesn't want to go.
- Children are naughty and rude, then blame their imaginary friends for their behavior.
- Children show signs of receiving physical, sexual or emotional abuse.
How Should Parents Respond to Children Who Have Imaginary Friends?
Generally, the presence of an imaginary friend is not a sign that the child is not developing normally. Mothers can actually take advantage of this time to teach their little ones about certain values.
The following are some tips on how parents should deal with children who have imaginary friends:
1. Appreciate the friendship of the child with his imaginary friend
If your little one tells about their imaginary friend, you should appreciate it by showing curiosity about their friend, as well as learning more about your little one's interests and what their imaginary friend does.
2. Don't let imaginary friends be the reason
When your little one involves an imaginary friend in his excuses when he makes a mistake, don't scold him. However, make it clear that the imaginary friend is unlikely to do that. After that, give him the consequences according to his actions.
For example, if your little one suddenly spills the contents of the jar because he is careless and he blames his imaginary friend, avoid scolding him like saying, "Stop pretending you're not wrong!" Ask him to clean up the messy contents of the jar with polite words.
3. Don't use imaginary friends to manipulate him
Appreciating your child's imaginary friend is important. However, avoid using her imaginary friend to achieve the target you want for her.
For example, avoid saying, “That's your friend who likes to eat carrots. Does that mean you want it too?" Deep down, your little one knows that his imaginary friend is not real. So, it will be strange for him if Mother treats her friend seriously.
4. No need to get involved in a child's relationship with an imaginary friend
Even though you have stated that you believe in the existence of your Little One's imaginary friend, you don't need to overdo it by joining in on the conversation with his imaginary friend.
If your little one asks you to talk to a friend, just say that you want to hear your little one's opinion.
This is important, bro, because the relationship between the child and his imaginary friend tends to last longer if the parents are also involved, and that is not good for the child's psychological development.
Basically, parents don't need to worry and try to stay calm when they find out their child has an imaginary friend. Children who have or have had imaginary friends generally grow up to be happy, creative, easy to work with and socialize with, and independent.
After the age of 7 years, imaginary friends usually begin to disappear along with the busyness of children in elementary school.However, if your child's imaginary friend lasts longer or is considered worrying, you can take your child to consult a psychologist for proper treatment.