Did Your Child Have an Imaginary Friend?
Rosie came home from preschool the other day talking about her “best friend” Jeffrey. I was thrilled. Because she is a twin, I am curious and eager to see how she expands outside of her twosome.
I had all sorts of questions about Jeffrey, but the answers I got were a bit confusing. He was either two or four years old, he had a birthday coming up, and Rosie wasn’t sure which class he was in. Hmmm…
She had adorable things to say about him. Not only was he her best friend, but she wanted to have a sleepover with him, go to his “sparkly” birthday party, and have a play date. She wanted me to call his mom to invite him over.
It took me a few more days to put it all together. Finally, I asked the teachers at school if there was a boy named Jeffrey, and alas, there was not.
Just when I feel like I’ve been through all of the little kid phases, I get surprised… So I turned to Google. I was quickly reassured that this is a natural and normal developmental phase that occurs in one-third to two thirds of children between ages three and eight. While studies vary, traits associated with this behavior, according to Science Friday, include having a slightly larger vocabulary, being less shy, and being good at understanding the perspective of others.
If anything, it makes for humorous situations at home. I particularly love these tweets:
Kinda wish my 5 year old told me before he invited all of his buddies to his imaginary friend's birthday party this weekend.— Brian Hope (@Brianhopecomedy) June 17, 2013
My son wrote a story at school today about his imaginary friend, Wino.— Unfiltered Mama (@UnfilteredMama) September 23, 2016
I assume questions about his home life have been raised.
My son says his imaginary friend has 2 dads and no mom. Dunno if I should be pleased from political POV or insulted from psychological POV.— Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg (@TheRaDR) June 19, 2013
I am excited to see where this friendship goes. For now, I pepper her with questions about Jeffrey—what he likes to do, and what they can do together. She seems to understand that there’s a line between him and reality, as Jeffrey is never able to play, but she loves to talk about him and the things they will do together. And I love to listen.
Have you had an experience with an imaginary friend?