Don’t worry about your child’s imaginary friends

Parents need not worry about their children chatting to invisible friends as new study suggests they’re good for development

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Imaginary friends are a normal feature in children’s development, according to new research by UK psychologist, Dr Karen Majors.

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She asked 1,800 British children to fill out a questionnaire about imaginary friends. Nearly half of the under 7s admitted to having their own invisible companions. According to Dr Karen, these imaginary friends can help children deal with difficult situations and combat boredom, loneliness and feeling sad.

“Some parents are concerned when they hear their child chattering away to an invisible companion but this research shows this is mostly just a normal part of healthy child development,” explained Dr Karen. “The children recognised their imaginary friends weren’t real but they still felt they were important and special.”

The research also concluded that a wide variety of children have imaginary friends rather than a specific groups. Many of these children were otherwise social and imaginative.

More research into imaginary friends is needed to discover more about how they affect children’s development but if your little one is chattering away to an invisible person in the cupboard, don’t panic!

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Does your child have an imaginary friend? You can answer the questionnaire by emailing Dr Karen at k.majors@ioe.ac.uk.

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