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Should you be concerned if your child has an imaginary friend? Absolutely not! Many children foster imaginary friends at various stages of their childhood, sometimes the same friend will persist for years. Research suggests that imaginary friends are created by intellectually and intelligently superior children, although not all bright kids will create them. There is speculation that imaginary friends assist with the adoption of language and help to develop social skills because children will interact with their imaginary friends more than they might interact with their peers.
Imaginary friends will most usually be given a name and be attributed personality traits that may be quite different from those of your own children. Hollywood indulged in the behaviour of imaginary friends in Drop Dead Fred (1991), currently being remade for release in 2011, and even more famously, Harvey (1950), where the friend took the form of a giant 6-foot rabbit imagined by Elwood P. Dowd in the film and stage play of the same name.
Listening to your child interact with an imaginary friend can offer a wonderful insight into their feelings, concerns and interpretation of the world. Your children will allude to people, places and events in ways that they may not talk about openly with you. This could be the closest exposure you will have to their mind.
Make sure that imaginary friends don't form a barrier to your children socialising with other children and don't let your children use imaginary friends as an excuse to do things that they know are wrong but think they can get away with by apportioning blame onto their friend.
Now if you still have an imaginary friend, that could be a different matter...!
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