Is it normal for toddlers to have imaginary friends?
Imaginary friends are a product of healthy and active minds in toddlers. It is a way that your child expresses what he is feeling, and it plays a crucial role in a kid showing his social skills. It has been found that two out of three toddlers have imaginary friends. If your child has not yet brought his imaginary friend home again, you can be sure that he will introduce him someday.
These make-believe friends are a great way of teaching your child how to play and sharpen his social skills. Most toddlers begin to have imaginary friends at the age of two and a half to three years of age. It marks the beginning of a pretended play.
However, the reason for the presence of these make-believe buddies varies from one toddler to another. Also, the time that these imaginary friends will around differ from child to child.
Yes, it is normal for toddlers to have imaginary friends. According to studies, it has been found that around 50% of toddlers have imaginary friends. This make-believe buddy might be in the form of anything, e.g., a doll, another child, or an animal such as a bunny.
In most cases, it is firstborn children or only kids in the family that have these imaginary friends. But this is a sign that your child is lonely or shy to make real friends. On the contrary, a child with imaginary friends is very creative and very social. Therefore, if your toddler has a make-believe friend, you do not have to be worried.
Experts believe that when a kid has imaginary companions, he has higher chances of experimenting on things that he cannot test in real life.
In some cases, a child might pretend to be in a given place, such as a hospital or driving. These imaginary places with imaginary companions provide a toddler a chance to be in control of whatever is happening in his imagination. This is good for your child.
- 1 Is it normal for toddlers to have imaginary friends?
- 2 How to manage a toddler with imaginary friends?
Is it normal for toddlers to have imaginary friends?
Most toddlers have imaginary companions because they are fun to be with. This is beneficial to your kid because it helps to make his mental and emotional abilities healthy. Also, they enjoy playing with their make-believe friends so your child will not be bored or feel lonely.
However, if your toddler is the only child creating an imaginary companion is not a sign for craving for a brother or sister. It has been found that even toddlers with little brothers or sisters still create make-believe buddies to play with.
Why Toddlers Have Imaginary Friends?
Another reason as to why children have imaginary companions is because they fill gaps that real playmates don’t. This is common if the toddler does not get a chance to choose the kind of game that he would like to play with his real-time friends. So he will create an imaginary playmate and play the game that he wants to play.
Apart from that, toddlers have imaginary buddies because they listen and support your child in whatever they are doing. Additionally, make-believe friends are playmates with your child.
Other toddlers have imaginary friends who help them to carry out tasks that they are not able to carry out. If your toddler wants to do a task that he finds impossible to do on his own, he will create a friend who can do the things that he wants to be done.
Also, imaginary friends are unique, and they belong only to your toddler. He will not allow you to play with his imaginary companion, but he can let you talk to him.
Moreover, toddlers have imaginary companions because they do not judge either do they find fault with your child. Your kid will be entirely in control of what the imaginary buddy will say and what he does. This makes the imaginary friend appealing to most toddlers.
Most importantly, make-believe companions help your child to explore imaginary surroundings that they create for themselves. It makes your child enjoy magical stories, and other fantasy plays.
Imaginary buddies are a great comfort to a toddler. In addition to that, they are very beneficial in the following manner:
Strike a conversation
Your toddler can be reluctant to tell you about her preschool day, but she will be willing to tell you what her imaginary buddy did. From the conversation about what her friend did, you can get to know how his preschool was.
For instance, if your child tells that her imaginary friend spilled the paint in class, please don’t take that your child spilled the paint. Instead, it allows you to ask your toddler what he painted at school.
They help make complicated routines and transitions easier
There might be some problematic routines for your child to perform, and the imaginary friend will come in handy to help accomplish those tasks. For instance, when your toddler is brushing his teeth, and he doesn’t know where to place his brush as he washes his mouth, he will give the imaginary buddy the brush to hold for him.
This make-believe buddies go a great way into helping a child to cope with situations that he might find difficult on his own.
Imaginary Friends inspire toddlers in creativity
Playing with an imaginary companion helps your toddler to develop his imaginative, speech, and thinking skills. If your child does not have real playmates to play with at the moment, he will come up with his imaginary friend and start playing. This increases your child’s creative abilities.
It helps you to know what your toddler is thinking
Having make-believe buddies is an excellent way for your child to share what he is feeling. Sometimes your child might not openly share with you his feelings, but by listening and watching what he is doing with his imaginary companion, you get to know what he is thinking.
So do not discourage your toddler when he starts playing with his imaginary friend but you should follow through and understand.
How to manage a toddler with imaginary friends?
Under some circumstances, your child might have issues with his imaginary buddy, and you might be forced to intervene. Here are some of the ways that you can handle such incidents:
Doing tasks for make-believe friends
There might be incidents where your toddler will ask you to help his imaginary friend to carry out a given job. For instance, you might be required to make a snack for the friend, open a door for the friend, or make a bed for the imaginary buddy.
As a parent, instead of carrying out these tasks, encourage your child to perform these things. For example, you can ask your toddler to prepare a snack for his imaginary friend. This way, you will encourage your son to be more creative, thus developing his skills further.
Blaming Imaginary buddy
Your child may say or do something that he is not supposed to do, and he will blame his imaginary companion. You can help your toddler to understand that his make-believe friend is not able to do what he did. After that, make your child responsible for what happened.
For example, if he created a mess, ask him to clean up the mess. This way, your toddler will become more responsible and know the kind of duties that an imaginary friend can perform and which ones he cannot.
Toddler Talking to an imaginary friend
Your child might become so attached to his imaginary buddy to the extent that he would want to consult him first before doing anything. At times, he won’t ask you to talk to his friend about an issue instead of him talking to his friend directly.
In such a scenario, ask your child to state his mind without consulting his imaginary friend first. This will make your child learn to think for himself and become independent.
If your child starts to make unreasonable demands, you are encouraged to say no. for instance, if your child starts to demand candies more than he should, say no to the requirements. Do not allow your child’s make-believe buddy to become a burden and turn your child into a bother in your family.
For example, if your child asks to have a plate with fabulous food for his imaginary buddy is okay but not serving a full plate for an imaginary companion.
Also, if your child starts to misbehave under the guise of an imaginary companion, do not allow it to continue. In such a case, make your child understand that he will be responsible for whatever his imaginary friend will say or do.
An imaginary buddy can become problematic when your child prefers them over real friends. Although this is not common, if it does happen, then it is a sign of an underlying factor. Find out whether your child is being bullied or mistreated by the real friends hence start to avoid them in preference of the imaginary companion. Also, find out if your child is suffering from social anxiety.