5 things you should know about your child's imaginary friend
Why the friend you can't see is a normal part of growing up
During a recent press conference heading into the American League Division Series, Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost brought up a child's imaginary friend.
"Pressure's what you make out of it, all right? It's kind of like - pressure's kind of like your friend you had, your imaginary friend you had when you were 4 years old, right? If you think it's there, it's there. If you don't, you don't. That kind of the way we go about it."
Then he was asked if he had an imaginary friend. "I don't," he answered.
It's not surprising that a 61-year-old man doesn't have an imaginary friend, but it shouldn't be a concern if your child has a friend you can't see.
Having a child with an imaginary friend can be worrisome, especially for new parents. "Is my child hallucinating?" "Is this an early sign of a social disorder?"
Despite how it looks, having an imaginary friend is normal for children. As many as 65 percent of children develop an imaginary friend, often while they are between the ages 2 and 6. Here are a few things you may not know about imaginary friends:
- Imaginary friends are more common among first-born and only children.
- Imaginary friends typically last less than 6 months.
- Kids may use objects, such as blankets or stuff animals, to represent imaginary friends.
- Exceptionally bright children often have imaginary friends.
- There is no correlation between imaginary friends and psychological problems.
"Imaginary friends usually surface during transitional periods or times of emotional stress, such as a family illness," said Lena Zettler, MA, LPA, director of Psychology at Cook Children's. "An invisible friend can be a healthy outlet for kids to play out their emotions and cope with bad feelings.
Lena Zettler, MA, LPA, is the director of Psychology at Cook Children's. Cook Children's Behavioral Health services provides a broad range of care that focuses on children from ages three years through 17, and their families. As part of family-centered care all of our professionals are qualified both through education and experience to work with children who have behavioral and emotional challenges. Our psychiatrists are board certified in child and adolescent psychiatry and our psychologists and therapists are all licensed independently in Texas.
To access any of our services, please contact our Intake Department. To expedite your call, please have your child’s date of birth and insurance information ready.