Thursday, January 22, 2009

Children And Imaginary Friends

Quoted from here:

Many young children develop "imaginary friends." For some, a stuffed toy or doll personifies the imaginary friend. For others, the friend is completely invisible to the rest of the world. Some studies have indicated that children who have imaginary friends tend to be "bright," and certainly we know they are creative and imaginative.

To young children, these imaginary friends are quite real. They may insist that their friend is served at the table, buckled into the car seat and given a turn to speak in family conversations. Usually the imaginary friend has a name of the child’s own creating. The name may be a made-up name or a familiar name. Imaginary friends may last for awhile. They are most typical for children between the ages of three and six. Sometimes the imaginary friend acts as a child’s alter-ego, taking the blame for the toys that didn’t get picked up or saying "bad words." Sometimes the friend is just a wonderful playmate.

Pretend play is vital to children’s development. Imaginary friends are an extension of pretend play, which is a normal, healthy, important part of a young child’s development. Pretend play gives children a chance to learn about roles, relationships, power, and control. Pretend play also gives children a chance to work through the multitude of feelings they experience daily. Because adults make most of the decisions about children’s lives, children are always looking for ways to gain some control and to deal with their feelings of helplessness. When a child goes to the doctor, she doesn’t get to decide to go, if she is going to get a shot, an examination , or medicine. When she comes home and "becomes" the doctor, she is in charge of the decisions and can give her imaginary friend as many shots as she wants. She and her imaginary friend could even devise a way to escape the doctor’s office altogether. Children often use pretend play to become the person in charge. A child who resists naps and nighttime routines may spend all day putting his teddy down for a nap. These imaginary play outlets help children learn to cope with their lives.

Pretend play usually starts when children are two, or older. Up until about five years old, the line between fantasy and reality is fuzzy. For young children, their pretend play is very real. If adults feel concerned, they can offer words to define the difference ("That sounds like a wonderful, pretend story about the circus elephants coming to your preschool.") But most often, the fantasies are harmless and children will naturally grow into an understanding of the difference between reality and fantasy.

Quoted from here:

Some buddies are more naughty than nice. Children complained that some "friends" bothered them, hit them or wouldn't go away when they tried to read.

"One child said the friend put yogurt in her hair," said Carlson, an assistant professor of psychology.

How to deal with your child’s Imaginary Companion (IC) (Quoted from here):

— Don’t be shy to interact directly with the IC if your child invites you to – it is good creative practice for you too. But allow the child to lead; if he/she wants you to acknowledge the IC, do so, but do not muscle in if the relationship between them seems to be private.

— If the IC expresses worrying sentiments – fear, say, or aggression – be aware that these may be the child’s own feelings, but do not assume that this is so.

— To find out, you might ask your child “Do you feel like XX about this, too?” or “What do you think of what XX says?” If the IC is the “vehicle” for conveying something to you that the child does not want to show directly, it may be better to deal with it by talking about it to the IC, rather than directly to the child.

— An IC should not be a child’s only playmate. Discourage your child from playing with it to the exclusion of other children.

— If an IC is aggressive or unusually anxious, be on guard for those feelings in the child and treat them appropriately.

Another article:
The Baby Website

p/s: Sakit hati sebab quoted text cannot be justified. Nampak tak ombak-ombak perenggan di sebelah kanan? Arggghhhh...