Last week my son discovered something. A friend that woke him up while he slept. A little boy who hangs out in his room. A friend we have not seen or heard. He calls him a ghost. “The ghost woke me up,” he says so innocently and playfully.
Having grown up in a haunted house, my heart began to race. My always level headed wife though, reacted in a more positive way. She engaged our son and began asking questions about him and even made it into somewhat of a game. That’s when I realized that this is just him exploring his creativity and the great big world around him.
So I dug up this interesting article from Science Friday about imaginary friends, their place in childhood development and how parents can foster this with their kids. If your kids are in the phase of their life, give the article a look.
The writers and researchers approach imaginary friends from a psychological and developmental point of view and how really, having imaginary friends, is a normal thing. Parents should treat the experience as something fun and creative with their kids.
However, one of my favourite takeaways from the article addresses the notion of limits with the imaginary friends, especially when kids start to use their imaginary friends to test their boundaries and rules that parents have established. No one wants to squash their child’s creative spirit. Yet, if the child begins to use their friend as a source of blame or mischief, the article provides ways you can deal with it, while ensuring that such consequences do not stifle their burgeoning creativity.
So remember, if your child is talking to their new invisible friend in the corner, that’s okay. Chances are it is not a ghost or something sinister. They are just figuring out how this complicated world works. Be understanding and open to this. It’s just another avenue of play for you and your child to run down together. Have fun!