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Does your child talk to imaginary friends?

Jul 30, 2007 03:34 PM IST India India

New Delhi: Parents who feel that their children are more content talking to an imaginary friend rather than a real one need not worry. A new study at the Institute of Education in London finds that imaginary friends can have a positive effect on children

“They have emotional, social, and cognitive benefits, and they help prepare children for real life,” says Psychologist Bhavna Barmi.

Three-year-old Ishvaak often lives in his imaginary world. Imaginary friends can be explained as fantasised companions with animal or human like qualities.

Perhaps one of the most famous 'imaginary friends' is Hobbes, the stuffed tiger treated as a real, living companion by Calvin. And according to psychologists it is a coping mechanism and this is healthy for kids between the ages of three to seven years.

“It is a way of expression but not appropriate beyond seven years since there is a danger of getting lost in a virtual world,” says Barmi.

So watch out for signs of antisocial behaviour or temperamental shifts in older children.
But even if your child does not have imaginary friends, experts encourage more interactive, make-believe and imaginative play in children since it develops logical reasoning as well as abstract thinking.