Imaginary friends

(3 ratings)
Girl sitting by the road on her own

4. Having an imaginary friend

Loads of kids go through a phase of having an imaginary friend, even if they have lots of real friends and siblings to play with.

Why do they do it?
'Imaginary friends are wonderful ways for kids to express themselves and it's all perfectly normal. Kids learn through playing, pretending and imagining, it's one of the ways they gain experience, insight and understanding.'

What can you do?
Don't be scared of what your child is doing. 'Creative play is to be encouraged as it develops language skills. A child with an active imagination can write great stories later on and express themselves confidently,' says Sue.

'Encourage them and relax. However, if the child is withdrawing too much into themselves then you may have to look at what they are doing and why. Sometimes kids withdraw and create an imaginary friend when they are anxious about something.'

Choose another picture:

Boy with bandage round his headGirl holding her breath
Head banging
Holding their breath

Boy putting on make-upGirl sitting by the road on her own
Boys pretending to be girls
Imaginary friends

Get Sue Atkin's book Raising Happy Children for Dummies or visit

More help and advice

- Find out about children's social skills
- Read more about toddler tantrums
- How to discipline your child
- Six things you never knew about your toddler
- How to encourage your child's independence
- Get more help being a parent

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