Does your child's imaginary friend have you worried about their social development? As a psychotherapist for children and families I probably worry more than the average person about my child's behavior. Being in this field means I have the symptoms of dysfunction on the top of my mind frequently. But, when it comes to imaginary friends I have the opportunity to "debunk" and relieve anxiety surrounding old myths, and I am excited by what these imaginary relationships mean for our children's mental health and their creative futures.
As 2020 parents we tend to worry, a lot, about what's typical behavior for our children. As children become more isolated from their peers because of Covid-19, we may be looking at their social behavior with a magnifying glass, searching for signs that something is wrong. And while it's true that in the past people believed imaginary friends were something parents should be concerned about, modern understanding of mental health leads us in the opposite direction.
In fact, given the state of social isolation we are currently experiencing, imaginary friends can act as a buffer against the pain and sadness of canceled events and physical loneliness. For children experiencing grief, loss, and trauma, imaginary friends can be a source of comfort and an outlet to express their emotions which can lead to healing.
Children do not come with a manual, although I think most of us wish they did! If you are a parent or professional who works with children, and would like to learn new skills to increase emotional well-being in your family or work place, please join us in our private, safe, Facebook group, Emotiminds.
Emotiminds is a group of almost 1,000 parents and mental health professionals who are learning how to develop psychological health for ourselves and the children we love. Come learn with us today!