The benefits of having imaginary friends
Let’s be honest, kids are weird. And when you hear your three-year-old arguing over who gets to be the mom while playing “house” alone in the other room, you might question if you’ve done something wrong as a parent. But don’t worry, it’s perfectly normal for your child to have an imaginary friend, and it even has some benefits. (While your kids are benefitting from playing with their imaginary friend, try out these other ways to raise an intelligent child!)
One of the biggest pros is that it promotes creativity. Just think about it—you have to be a special kind of creative to carry on a conversation with an imaginary figure that doesn’t respond. Developmental psychologist Marjorie Taylor told PureWow that your child’s creativity will remain with them as they get older. Even when they stop hanging out with their “friend.”
Along with being more creative, they will also have a better developed and more diverse vocabulary as well as stronger social skills. Talking to “Sally” or “Bob” all day will allow them to practice their speech and conversation skills. Researchers at La Trobe University in Australia found that children who engage with their imaginary friends on a regular basis use more complex sentences and are more confident in everyday social situations.
There are also some benefits for the parents. If your child’s siblings aren’t around or they’re an only child, they have someone to entertain them while you take the time to chip away at your never-ending to-do list. So even though it might get old when your kids constantly ask you to set an extra plate at the table for their imaginary friend, they’ll benefit in the future from keeping them around. Having an extra member of the family can’t be that bad, the more the merrier, right?
Originally published as Why You Should Be Encouraging Your Child to Spend Time with Their Imaginary Friends on ReadersDigest.com.