Imaginary Friends

Suddenly, my 6-year-old son decided to have an imaginary friend. What do you do with them? Ignore them? Tell them they can’t have one? Are they harmful?

Dr. Greene’s Answer:

Imaginary friends are very common among children between 3 to 7 years old and usually not a problem – as long as they don’t interfere with carrying on normal life. It’s best not to try to talk kids out of them, but to inquire about what the friend is thinking and doing. Imaginary friends give parents a great window into what kids are thinking. Imaginary friends are a sign of creativity; they are not a signal of loneliness or stress. You don’t want to dwell on the friend, but from time to time joining your son in the imagination is great. Imaginary friends usually disappear within 6 months, whether or not you encourage them.

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Dr. Alan Greene

Dr. Greene is the founder of (cited by the AMA as “the pioneer physician Web site”), a practicing pediatrician, father of four, & author of Raising Baby Green & Feeding Baby Green. He appears frequently in the media including such venues as the The New York Times, the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, & the Dr. Oz Show.

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