Fantasy friends - How serious should you take this?
"Mom! Jasper has picked my ice cream! " Suus comes running screaming, without ice. "Who is Jasper?" Asks her mother. "Is that a boyfriend out of the street? I do not know Jasper. "No," says Suus, "Jasper is in my room."
"But is not there a child in your room?"
'Yes it is!' Suus insists.
Mother walks upstairs, to the room of Suus and as she expected, the room is empty. Suus followed her and is now standing next to her mother in the doorway.
"Where is Jasper then?" mother asks Suus.
'Over there! There in the corner, do not you see him then? He is now eating my ice cream! And I do not think that's fair! '
Mother looks at the corner, but sees nothing. She does, however, see an empty ice cube lying on the ground ...
Small children live in a magical world. A world in which everything that is impossible for us as adults is possible for them. In this world they can talk to animals, there are crocodiles under the bed, fairies, witches and gnomes do not only live in fairytales and Sinterklaas can still go with his parents through the chimney.
Do not panic
Children around the age of three are extremely imaginative and love role plays. Cars, cuddly toys or invisible friends, they all play a role. This is very normal, so do not panic. Imaginary friends often come into the picture during an exciting event, such as a move or divorce. Parents often think that something is missing in the life of their child, such as a brother or sister, but experience shows that there is usually no special reason to be.
Creativity and intelligence
A fantasizing child uses his creativity and his intelligence to get a grip on himself and his environment. The world is often beautiful, but still largely incomprehensible and sometimes even frightening.
Children with an imagined boyfriend learn to 'practice' social relationships. Your child learns to empathize with the imaginary friend. It moves in the other and sees things as the boyfriend sees them. In this way the empathy of your child gradually takes shape. Perhaps your child sometimes tells his boyfriend how to do things or gives a reprimand. Your child is then testing social relationships. Your child learns how to express feelings.
Research shows that children with a fantasy friend have more empathy and can tell better.
Children who have a fantasy friend do not only have to feel less lonely. They also often have a 'friend' to feel safe or to learn to deal with commandments and prohibitions. A fantasy friend can be a useful remedy for loneliness, but in most cases there is nothing special going on. The fact that your child is arguing with the boyfriend, for example, simply points out that it is developing its conscience in a very fun and creative way.
Having a fantasy friend has several advantages. First, it is very nice for your child. There is always someone to play with. Second, your child can feel strengthened with regard to everything he finds exciting. The child is no longer alone.
Having a non-existent boyfriend also provides a head start in language skills. That's because a child will think up stories about and around his fantasy friend. If your child is doing this, he will playfully make up and finish stories. This is a good language skills training that can ensure that your child will be able to read extra well.
Fantasy friends - How do you deal with it?
Are you wondering how to deal with the invisible roommate of your offspring? Go to some extent in the play of your child. Although it seems like your child believes in his non-existent buddy, he knows very well that this boyfriend is not real. Your child will therefore only find it strange if you take it too seriously. So let it run its course. Intervention is wise if your child talks through his game. For example if you are no longer allowed to sit on the couch because the fanciful friend is already there or if you have to cover the table every evening with an extra plate and chair for the invisible roommate.
Or when an imaginary friend is going to become a sort of scapegoat, get involved. If, for example, a glass of ranja goes over the kitchen table and your child points to his friend, say that everyone makes a mistake and collect it together. Incidentally, it is less common than thought that children search 'scapegoats' in their imagination.
Sometimes reality and fantasy mix a tiny bit. If the imaginary boyfriend is very afraid of the dark and does not want to go to bed alone, then it is possible that the child himself is afraid of the dark. You better discuss this with your child.
Look for a solution with your child where you still give him room to have this boyfriend, but that ensures that it does not disturb the environment.
There are also fun reading books that describe having fantasy friends in a fun way. Educational and fun, not only for your child, but also for you as a parent.
Fantasy friends - Come and go
Having one or more fantasy friends is usually a phase. A discovery phase and a development phase. In the long run, fantasy friends come and go again, naturally. In one case, the phase lasts longer than in the other. When toddlers get older, they automatically start to play together with each other instead of next to each other. Then real friendships become more important and fantasy friends automatically disappear. They come into the background and your child talks less and less about it. Sometimes they disappear abruptly. Your child will find his boyfriend childish and leave it to the left.
A mother told me about the fantasy friend of her toddler. Her son was 4 years old when she and her husband divorced. In the same period he created his fantasy friend. The boyfriend lived in his ear and had a name. He talked to him about things he would rather not discuss with his mother. His mother released him in it. She understood very well that he occasionally had to lose his egg with someone other than his mother.
His boyfriend lived in his ear
“It has lasted until he was about 7 years old. He was always very open about it, then he said that he had talked to his friend about it. That could be about any subject. So his boyfriend lived in his ear. He then asked his friend something in his head, and then he answered back in his ear. Sometimes the boyfriend did very funny, then it was mostly about me and the "stupid" things that I occasionally did.
My son was very serious about it. I never laughed at him or ridiculed him. Later, when the boyfriend was not there that often, we laughed about it together, but not in a stupid way.”
Do you feel that your child is clinging to the boyfriend, completely shutting himself off from the outside world and only having an eye for his imaginary friend? Does he want to play with no one else and / or does he seem unhappy? Then talk to your doctor first. You can refer them.