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Study: Having Imaginary Friends May Be Helpful Later in Life

Coffee Break IdeasThere is something so endearing of seeing a child communicating with their imaginary friend. While some might see this act of fantasy as a bit creepy or bizarre and question if it’s okay for their kid to talk to people that aren’t there, it’s not only perfectly normal but it is actually something that can be beneficial down the line.

A new study found that, as the Wall Street Journal notes, “young children’s habit of talking to imaginary friends can spur the development of an inner dialogue that they can use to talk themselves through challenging tasks now and later as adults.” The study was featured in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology and stated also that “this private speech, or verbalized thought, has been shown to improve children’s performance on cognitive tasks, such as planning and solving puzzles.”

Children who had created an imaginary friend for themselves had far more private speech then those who didn’t, but they also found that the same benefit came from children who regularly converse with adults. The Wall Street Journal notes that, “this private speech, or verbalized thought, has been shown to improve children’s performance on cognitive tasks, such as planning and solving puzzles.

And the imaginary friend is a popular pal to have, according to Marjorie Taylor of the University of Oregon, “by age seven, about 37% of children take imaginative play a step farther and create an invisible friend.” Sometimes these friends are created and kept around just for fun, but also some case studies showed that some children use their imaginary friends to assist them to cope with traumatic experiences.

So this just proves that imaginary friends should not be a cause for alarm but rather should be celebrated. Our own DadCamp did just that when he threw a birthday party for his son’s imaginary friend. My daughter’s own imaginary friend was a regular visitor to our house when she was in preschool. I asked my now 2nd grader where her pretend pal was now, she quickly replied that she lives in Hawaii. But she still does come to visit ever now and then. I, for one, am glad she still is in contact with her imaginary friend and that she will be there when needed. Because whether imaginary or real, a friend is a great thing to have.

Does your child have an imaginary friend? And do you support this fantasy friend?

Photo Source: istockphoto


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