Imaginary Friends

My 3 year old girl has an imaginary friend. She is rarely around when we are playing with her, but my daughter often says that “Brianna, (her imaginary friend) is at school and will be coming home soon.” Should I be worried about this?

Don’t worry about this at all; it is perfectly normal for children of this age to have imaginary friends. The fact that your daughter can entertain herself and keep herself busy when you are not with her is a good thing. Magical thinking is typical for young children and begins to fade around the age of 11 or 12 when the adult part of the brain begins to develop. I can remember when my son came to me at 12 and said “Mommy, something has been happening to me when I play lately, I can’t see the characters any more, and playing is not as fun.” I felt sad to hear him say that but knew it meant he was growing up. It won’t be long before your daughter can’t see Brianna anymore.

In the meantime, Brianna may even be helpful when it’s time to do things your daughter doesn’t want to do. Tell your daughter to ask Brianna if she can help by coming along when she’s nervous or feeling sad. There is a wonderful book called Jessica by Kevin Henkes, about what happens to a little girl when she is afraid to go to school and how her imaginary friend helps her. Have some fun with it and don’t worry or make her feel embarrassed. Brianna will most likely long gone by the time your daughter is in grade one, you may even find that you miss her.

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