Does your child have an imaginary friend? This is quite a peculiar topic, I’m sure, but it seems to be an ongoing theme in our household so I figured the time is ripe for me to write about it… Our little Bum has taken to a new friend, “Angie”, whom we’ve never met or seen before (and nor has she, really, but we don’t tell her that).

This has only come about since our move to the US. And my husband and I can’t quite figure it out, because she’s never known anyone by the name of Angie. So our conclusion is that this must be her way of coming to terms with the move, “losing” her special friends (who she still talks about), and adjusting to this new world around her.  What saddens us is that she might in fact be lonely. Whenever she tells us about a particular activity, or how her day went, little Angie is always included. We have had phone conversations with Angie as well… (She seems quite sweet :) ) To be honest, I actually picture a little red-headed, freckled-faced sweetheart!

Sometimes there is good Angie, and on other days naughty Angie (like all kids, I suppose)… it’s on these days that Bum says Angie won’t play with her. Or Angie is at home for the day. Now I’m not going to get too analytical about this, but the following comes to mind.

  1. She is projecting her own emotions about the trauma of such a big move onto this “friend” as a coping mechanism to help her deal with all these big feelings rumbling through her little heart and mind right now.
  2. She is lonely, and because she is such a social kid, misses friends and school more than we realize. She is starting school this September, which is the beginning of the school year here in America, and she is BEYOND excited. Our little overachiever :)
  3. She is so engrossed in her fantasy play that she has created her own little friendship circle that she plays with. Which reflects a very lively and healthy imagination that we want to encourage as much as we can.

Is this a positive or a negative thing?

I was reading up a little about this topic – even though I hold a degree in psychology, and I’m a certified play therapist, this strikes a little too close to home and I’m afraid my own biases might just cloud my judgment – so I decided to do some new research. Did you know that two-thirds of children conjure up an imaginary or ‘special’ friend? This can be a stuffed animal and object/toy or a little Angie! I will admit to being a little startled when I first read this… But it does point to the fact that our children need deep and meaningful relationships on every level and they have the wonderful, innate, ability to create and celebrate these relationships- even if it is on the level of fantasy play.

According to Heidi from What To Expect – There are a number of reasons why children have imaginary friends!

  • First, imaginary friends give toddlers a chance to exert control over their environment. While real friends might take their playthings, or disagree about what games to play, imaginary friends won’t, which makes them ideal companions.
  • Second, imaginary friends can be helpful scapegoats to blame misdeeds on (lamp gets knocked off the table? “Boo-boo did it”), and to express outsized emotions. Your daughter might not feel comfortable expressing her anger, but her imaginary friend has no such reservations (“Mr.Bunny HATES shoes!”).
  • Third, imaginary friends can help build a child’s sense of security and comfort, and offer a chance to exhibit confidence and bravery; a child may tell his or her imaginary friend, “Don’t be afraid of monsters under the bed,” and in doing so, soothe his or her own fears.
  • Finally, imaginary friends provide companionship that’s not always available from real friends or family members.

According to research, children that have imaginary friends have great social skills, a rich vocabulary (our little Bum talks the hind leg off a donkey), an active imagination, and a great capacity for independent play!

SHEW!  – Now that’s a relief!

No need for this Mama to get all flustered.  For now…

I guess we will be hearing a lot more about Angie. Who knows, she might be with us for a long, long time! But that’s ok, she’ll always have a seat at our dinner table.