When do imaginary friends become a problem? This is a question every parent should be open to understanding.
However, only a proper understanding of what an imaginary friend is will give you the proper guidance on the things you do when you see your child acting he/she is having a relationship with something that is not visible.
The answer to this question on when imaginary friends become a problem depends on personality and some physical factors surrounding the child.
You are lucky to have come across this piece of information that would guide you properly on when to seek help if your child is having an imaginary friend. There is a lot to be said but this article will be by giving you an insight into what imaginary friends are, the ways to live without them, and also when do imaginary friends become a problem.
Introduction on when do imaginary friends become a problem
The knowledge on when do imaginary friends become a problem will equip you on the clever approaches to take and when to ask for help. Children are naturally imaginative, and exercising their imaginations is good for their emotional and mental health,” says Laura Markham, Ph.D.
To many parents, for children to have an imaginary friend is a healthy part of childhood play. Imaginary friends can also be considered as imaginary companions, someone they can talk to, interact with, and play with.
Having imaginary friends could be a symptom of developing social intelligence in a kid. For children to dream up peers, they must understand that people possess beliefs and desires and exhibit behaviors that differ from their own, a concept is known as “theory of mind,”
Imaginary companions are exhibited by many kinds of different stages of childhood development. Stephanie Carlson, a professor at the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Child Development says that the prime time for having imaginary friends is from the ages of 3 to 11.
When do imaginary friends become a problem?
- When your child starts being aggressive on feeling the presence of the imaginary friend
- When a child blames his or her shortcomings on the imaginary friend
- Preference for imaginary friends over real friends
- When the imaginary friend is scary
- When the child starts hallucinating, such as hearing voices or seeing things
- A sudden change of mood and behavior
When your child starts being aggressive on feeling the presence of the imaginary friend
It calls for concern when the imaginary friend causes your child to be aggressive and starts being violent. You should always make hay while the sun shines; seek help as soon as you can from a doctor trained for such conditions.
When a child blames his or her shortcomings on the imaginary friend
It is an act of irresponsibility when one does not take responsibility for his or her actions. One of the things children are to learn while growing is their ability to account for their actions, which are the primary things and character they exhibit.
When a child starts shying away from taking responsibility for their actions and starts blaming the imaginary companion, they always seek help.
Preference for imaginary friends over real friends
To many what causes a child to develop this imaginary friend is loneliness, however, when a child is being engaged socially with other children and yet shows the preference of the imaginary friend to the real ones, the parents and guardians should always take charge and ask for help from the necessary professions.
When the imaginary friend is scary
Friends are to be encouraging and welcoming not discouraging and scary. Any friend that frightens you is not worth keeping because it does not say well of your mental state.
Therefore, any imaginary friend that serves as a terror to a child should at all cost be bridged and there should be immediate intervention by the parents and guardians.
When the child starts hallucinating, such as hearing voices or seeing things
When a child starts hallucinating and seeing things that take him or her away from reality, that child’s mind should be properly evaluated and the proper actions are taken.
Hearing voices should be seen as one of the answers to when do imaginary friends become a problem.
A sudden change of mood and behavior
When you notice your child has this sudden change of mood and behavior, after acting or discussing with the imaginary companion, it calls for concern and the problem should be carefully evaluated.
Benefits of imaginary friends in children
In considering when do imaginary friends become a problem, it is equally essential you note some of the benefits arising from having imaginary friends; some of these reasons are not limited to the ones listed below.
- Children with imaginary friends have better social skills
- They tend to be less timid than other kids
- Better coping strategies
- Increased emotional understanding
- They develop better communication skills
- Having a friend for fantasy play
- Having someone to overcome loneliness
- They develop better reasoning and cognitive skills
Among these benefits, no evidence shows the presence of an imaginary companion can be linked to future IQ, but research does show some commonalities among children who have them.
What you should do when you notice your child has an imaginary friend
- Try to understand more about this unknown friend
- Stand against the imaginary friend if it comes with negative energy that frightens your child
- Ask questions to know what the child likes about this imaginary friend
- Engage your child for healthy discussion on what the unknown companion teaches him or her
Conclusion on when do imaginary friends become a problem
Knowing when your child needs help in dealing with an imaginary friend is one of the clever approaches parents and guardians can take to make sure their child gets the mental health he or she deserves.
This unknown friend tends to disappear when the child becomes more engaged in social activities and mostly has the maximum age of 11 to stop experiencing such a relationship.
However, there is no fixed duration of time such relationship with an imaginary friend lasts, the time frame is dependent on different factors including but not limited to the personality of the child, level of social engagement, parents intervention, and the depth of this relationship.
On when do imaginary friends become a problem, parents and guardians are advised to always seek medical attention from psychologists and pediatric doctors, and other mental health professions for advice, directions, and feasible approaches to take.