Many children between three and seven years old, for the most part, have imaginary friends, but is this worrisome? The presence of imaginary friends responds to a flood of imagination and ingenuity resulting from the progressive understanding of a world full of novelties for the little ones. The presence of these imaginary and ethereal friends is, consequently, one more game, such as turning a stuffed animal into a tireless friend or talking to the dolls. We must not forget that children learn, through games, to understand social relationships and everything that happens around them.


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If you find your child in long conversations, playing and / or laughing with someone you do not see, it is not that the child has gone crazy or has hallucinations, but it is probably an imaginary friend, a person created by your imagination with a name and a personality of its own. However, far from worrying, it is good that you know that this stage usually only lasts for months or a couple of years at most in most cases.

This fledgling and rapturous creativity is an unmistakable symbol of a child leaving their inner world to open up to socializing and understanding a vast and fascinating environment.


Why do children have imaginary friends?

Imaginary friends appear as a form of expression that manifests itself mainly in preschool children. In specialized bibliography on the subject this is already described as a phenomenon that occurs more frequently between three and four years of age, although there are those who manifest it at older ages.

Imaginary friends can be of different nature: people, objects or invented characters, and are usually created to play, to talk and to share in a symbolic way.

In general it is assumed that imaginary friends have a positive function for children at times when they are not able to express their feelings well, so it should never be related to psychological problems or strange attitudes, except that the fact of having a imaginary friend are accompanied by other behaviors or behaviors more out of the ordinary. For example, there are times when a child’s own negative feelings can be attributed to his imaginary friend in order to avoid scolding or punishment, but this would also respond to normality and that little capacity that the smallest have of channel and manage your emotions. Imaginary friends can also appear in response to idealizations and hopes or to satisfy the most inner desires and wishes.

Between fantasy and reality

Children establish the boundaries between fantasy and reality around six or seven years of age. Before that, they need space to give wings to their imagination, to experience their fantasies. Many children describe these invisible little friends with many details, even their clothes, and make them an inescapable part of their games, even claiming that they really exist, but this behavior is normal. We have been able to observe that this phenomenon occurs more frequently in children who are only children , who live alone with the adult world or who have not yet gone to early childhood school. This shows that imaginary friends arise many times to satisfy some needs of emptiness or that their environment does not provide them, and in this sense it would be more advisable to act.


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It is not about scolding the boy or girl who has an imaginary friend saying not to invent things or to behave like “a normal child”, but to respect their needs and their imaginative capacity and symbolic play, as well as to work on the Aspects that can influence this creation and that do not depend so much on the little ones, such as the presence of parents in the day to day or loneliness for any other cause. For example, we must be very careful with the promises that we make to the little ones and that we do not fulfill later, such as spending more time with them or sharing more moments of games and free time with the family. Time does not stand still for a child, and each day constitutes a new occasion for adventure and joy for them.

As a parent, don’t forget that no one loses their first tooth twice, that the victory of a school football team can mark more than that of an adult team, that the first anger with a friend can leave great wounds. … That is, it is that lack of presence in the important moments of a child’s life that can make imaginary worlds and beings capable of evading reality be created, beings that would not be created, with almost all security, if there are no such gaps.

Not being present in the growth of children creates that void between children and adults that is very difficult to bridge, so we should not see imaginary friends as a problem, but as a momentary solution to problems that are serious and that yes we should know how to tackle as soon as possible.

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