Navigating your child’s imaginary friend and tracking their connection with social interaction skills can be a tricky task. Having an imaginary friend can be quite a common occurrence among young people. An imaginary friend comforts your child on many emotional and physical levels. Although not literally. But having one is like having a constant companion. One of the main reasons for creating an imaginary buddy is your child’s exposure to books and television. The fantastic world of novels, bedtime stories, cartoons, television shows is added to it. Most of all, they are a fragment of their own fantasy world and your child finds their company most heartwarming.
Children quickly pick up unusual elements of most things they see. They often find these elements intriguing, and these fragments help build a fantasy world in your child’s mind. While it’s okay to have imaginary friends early on, it can be a bit awkward if it escalates.
However, you don’t have to worry about your child’s mental health if this happens. My child saw a flying octopus and a crab talking like his imaginary friends. Several influences led to the friendship between these unusual otherworldly creatures and my child. Here’s how I sailed and made sure her social interaction skills weren’t hampered because of it.
Learn more about your child’s playmate
Imaginary playmates may not be something you should care much about. However, you need to know who your child’s imaginary friends are. When you are aware of your child’s imaginary buddies, you can follow the influences and change the sources if things go wrong. Going to see your child from the start and confronting them might not be the smartest idea. In addition, your child may not open up to you at all.
Although there are some nifty ways to get your kid’s information.
Have your child doodle:
Most children love to doodle. With a pen, pencil or brush in hand, they begin by creating their masterpiece. You can use this to your advantage. Sit down with your child and ask him to draw his imaginary friend, of course not on the walls. The way they draw the picture says a lot about how they perceive their companions, their inspiration and their emotions. Plus, you can dive a bit into the imaginative pools in your child’s head.
Encourage your child to write letters:
Writing letters may be one of the first things your child learns in their English class. As children, we have always wanted to write letters to our friends living far away in other countries. But we rarely get the chance. You can encourage your child to write letters to his imaginary friend. However, be sure to take a look at the letter. This will reveal a lot of things your child might be thinking about their boyfriend. While this is not a fair deal, remember that you are only doing this out of concern for your child.
Play with your child and their boyfriend:
Naturally, if your child is hanging out with their imaginary companion, they might be playing games. Rather than criticizing or preventing your child from engaging in such an activity, you can also participate. While not always a physical sport, it can be a game linked to the inspiration of their imaginary friendship. For example, if your child is an imaginary friend with a character from a novel that he or she likes, the games can be based on the theme or setting of the novel. You can only know that if you are part of the game. This way you can make sure that your child does not cross the line between reality and imagination.
Teach Your Young One Life Lessons
Say that you disapprove of your child’s imaginary friendship and avoid committing to it. There is hardly much you can do. It is not a physical activity that you can forbid your child to do. Instead, you can use their friendship to benefit your child. You can teach your child life skills and lessons using their friend as a medium.
One aspect that can take a hit with the introduction of imaginary friends is your child’s social interaction skills. You can teach your child proper speech and decorum while being with their imaginary boyfriend. For example, you will teach them to always greet their friends with a warm smile. Likewise, you should tell them to modulate their voice and speak quietly. Friends may cease to exist in your child’s mind as they grow older, but these skills and lessons don’t. In fact, they are reflected when they interact with other humans on occasion.
Tracy R. Gleason of the Psychology Department at Wellesley College writes in an article on Springer Link: “While playing with integrated circuits does not provide the same immediate feedback as playing with other real people, this imaginary, quasi-social context allows children experiment with or rehearse events that might occur in real relationships. This symbolic staging of social relationships could offer opportunities to experience not only social situations, but all kinds of positive and negative emotions in a safe way. ”
Give your child space
Imaginary friends don’t stay with your child all their lives. The phenomenon is usually short-lived and goes away as your child gets older. This is a phase where your child is introduced to the limitless world of the imagination and sometimes struggles to find the difference between reality and imagination. In addition, it is harmless to your child. You don’t have to stress or boil your blood. Let your child grow, experiment and enjoy their own space because that will pass too.
Fill that void in your child’s mind
Suppose you can’t stand the idea of your child having an imaginary friend, or you can’t stop worrying, there is something you can do to put an end to it. In some cases, a child befriends someone in their imagination to connect with them or to share things with them that they otherwise cannot. Most importantly, imaginary friends don’t judge or criticize them. There is a void, or a hidden fear, in hiding that your child befriends an imaginary character.
You need to find this element or reason why your child has chosen to be friends with him. For example, your child is shorter than the other children in his class and feels suspicious about it. Due to which he cannot interact well with his peers. At the same time, his imaginary friend does not criticize or tease him, and he can openly communicate with him. In this case, you can boost your child’s self-confidence and make him aware of his other strengths. This way you eliminate the root cause of their need to have an imaginary boyfriend.
Finally, relax a bit and instead of constantly spying and worrying, give your child some space. Worst of all, you could end up with poorly scribbled walls, stained carpets, or failed science experiments. But it helps your child’s growth and creates a plethora of memories. Over time, your child’s imaginary friend will grab that ship or spaceship and return to their lands – leaving your child behind to shine in reality.
Embrace the phase and be sure to save all those doodles and letters your kid makes. Because when they grow up, the pictures and the words filled with innocence will take them into the past.
READ NEXT: 10 Benefits of Having an Imaginary Friend (& 10 Signs Parents Might Need to Watch Out for)
Sources: The Atlantic, Raising Children, Swaddling
There are many mindfulness activities that can be fun and helpful for children.
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