Do you hear your child chattering away to a friend who isn’t visible to you? Stop fretting! It’s just one of their imaginary friends. They appear in your child’s life out of nowhere and leave a positive impact. While this might be a concern for you, let this friendship blossom but be watchful about a few things. Here’s everything you need to know.
Why is it good for your child to have an imaginary friend?
1. Turns your child into a social butterfly
What enables a child to communicate? It is a rich vocabulary. And engaging in conversations with a child is a sure shot way to build their vocabulary. Being caught up with household chores and other responsibilities leaves you with little time for this. And that’s where having an imaginary friend proves to be beneficial for a child. It gives your child an opportunity to converse with someone at any given time. Moreover, it boosts their confidence and improves their social skills thereby making them better at handling social situations. Having an imaginary friend might just transform your little one into a social butterfly.
2. It offers companionship
You may not have enough time to spend with your preschooler, and this can make your child feel lonesome. Do you know what thoughts are encircling your child’s mind? It isn’t easy to interpret and a child finds it difficult to communicate. Those interactions with an imaginary friend give a child an opportunity to vent out their emotions. This emotional connection that a child forges with their imaginary friend offers them a sense of security and companionship.
3. It makes your child compassionate towards others
While interacting with their imaginary friends, a child becomes more sensitive and accepting towards others. This is because these exchanges enable a child to understand another person’s feelings. In this chaotic world, parents, sometimes forget to teach their child to be humane and that’s what an imaginary friend does. Hence, be accepting of this friendship because it will do your child good in more ways than you can imagine.
4. It offers a sense of control
Your child might be craving to do things in a manner that he/she deems suitable. Who knows you might be trying to cope with a control freak? Being a parent it is only natural to take their decisions. But in their equation with these imaginary friends, the reigns of control are in their hands. It gives them an opportunity to take charge and be responsible for a change.
5. It helps cope
It is somewhat easy for an adult to accept that life is unpredictable. But how can you expect a child to cope with life challenges? A child though disturbed by unfortunate events might be unable to comprehend what’s happening. This is one of the many other benefits of imaginary friends it helps a child sail through these tough times.
Guidelines for parents to handle a child with imaginary friends
The above-stated points outline the benefits of having imaginary friends. But there are certain warning signs one must watch out for:
1. If your child is lost in a fantasy world
While being imaginative is a great quality, it is important for your child to be rooted in reality. If not your child may find it hard to distinguish between fantasy and reality. To prevent this from happening, you can ask your child to be completely focused each time that you have a conversation with him/her.
2. If your child is quiet
As a result of interacting with their imaginary friend, a child might become quiet. You can make sure that your child is talkative by including their imaginary friend in your conversations with them.
3. If your child plays the blame game
Have your child’s actions been out of character? Has he/she started blaming their imaginary friend for all their wrongdoings? That’s where you need to step in and tell your child that it’s essential to take responsibility for their actions.
Parenting isn’t easy but watching your child grow into a responsible and loving adult is rewarding. The challenge is knowing when to hold back and when to put your foot down. Every child learns and develops on their own, that’s what we bear in mind while designing the program at Little Red Hen Preschool and Early Years. Allow your child to befriend an imaginary friend but draw the line when you need to. This journey might leave you with a story that you can narrate to your child and perhaps grandchild at a later stage.