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imaginary people


Melissa in Australia

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My kids didn't have imaginary friends. They scolded and punished their soft toys at that age for misbehaving.

Sometimes they do that after being scolded. Misery loves company, doing "detention" together kind of thing.

I think it is a form of anger management for kids.

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Apparently I had an imaginary village of people and animals. One time our neighbor backed out of his driveway and I came unglued because he had run over my imaginary dog.

 

Of my kids, my oldest was the only one. It was definitely in response to life trauma. When DS was born (he was very sick) she created one friend who stuck around for a few months. She was 3. This child was also a puppy for 3 straight months at 2, so the friend seemed positively normal.

 

My youngest is the type of kid that I would expect to have imaginary friends, but she's always had a house full of playmates, so I don't think she ever had need.

 

Just the existence of an adult imaginary friend would not concern me, unless the adult is unkind. That would hold true with a child IF also. If the IF isn't friendly, no matter the age, I would worry. If the IF is a comfort to the child, then the age of the IF wouldn't concern me.

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My dd (an only child) had so many imaginary siblings, she dictated all the details to her (real) cousin, who compiled a table of the data. Names, ages, likes and dislikes, where they went school, etc. I do remember her scolding her imaginary little brothers, who were always making messes and getting into scrapes. She never played with these siblings that I know of, but she wove a very rich life for them. She has always had a very full imagination, and is super creative. She made up some languages too, and her own origin story. My husband tried to write a bunch down, to remember it when it all faded away.

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My imaginary friends when I was a kid were always standing me up. I would just sit and wait for them to come, speak to them on the phone to make plans, then they wouldn't come. Ha. I guess I just think "play" is an expansive concept when you're 4. It's not always running around or using toys. It's also making your calendar or cooking or... in the case of my kids... making a business plan. All of their imaginary friends were characters on TV shows run by a vast media empire they made up.

 

 

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I think there are three possibilities to look at:

 

1) "Regular" imaginary friend experience (as I apparently had as a kid, and so did DS--his was a girl named Byna).

 

2) Response to the trauma/difficult feelings, and perhaps a perfectly healthy one, allowing the child to get rid of bad feelings safely by putting them on a created other person.

 

3) Mental illness symptom. You might want to read a memoir called January First.

 

 

Do consult the psych on this one next time you're there. I would think #2 is more likely than #3, though.

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I think it's pretty normal. The imaginary person can do naughty things the child might be curious about. And punishing the person gives a sense of empowerment. Certainly bring it up with psychologist but I would not be at all concerned.

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My daughter had Dad and Lady.  They eventually went away.  I had a flock of ducks.

 

ETA: Dad and Lady were grown-ups.  She was 100% sure they were real.

My sister had 3 pet alligators - a dad, a mom, and a baby. 

We had to pretend to put them outside each night (opening the door, calling for them, saying goodnight and closing the door) or she'd scream for hours and say they were biting her feet.  :lol:

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I think it's normal for little kids to believe their imaginary friends/people/animals/robots are real. I was my own imaginary friend—I took on the persona of a different little girl with a different name and different personality. I called my parents by their first names. Sometimes Mom would tell the other me it was time to go home and for her to tell WordNerd to come back home. I was a weird kid, but they played along. :)

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Does anyone have experience with a child ( young child) having an imaginary person? The person is not a imaginary play person.

 

 

I don't understand the above.  Have not read replies.  It seems like you're saying your child does have an imag person but the person is not imag play person.  It seems like you contradict yourself. Explain. 

 

From what I've heard this can be common for a young child to have an imaginary friend.  My dd had a pertend "person" friend playing outside with her.  She's an only child and really wanted a sibling.  Perhaps this is therapy for the child or a learning tool in some way.

 

Now there are cases where adults "see" people that are not present and that is an issue that needs to be addressed.  I don't think this is anything to be worried about.  Monitor it, keep a journal.  How long has this been going on?  And, what age are we talking about here?

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