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To be getting a bit concerned about my DD's imaginary friends

(54 Posts)
professorsnape Fri 12-Aug-11 18:07:11

My DD, age 3 and 9 months has had two imaginary friends for about the last year, called Alice and William.

The usual scenario, we've to set a place at the table for them, they get the blame for little wrongdoings, etc. When a drive past houses, it's pointing out the window and 'Oh William lives in that house there!"

My DH's parental grandfather was called William (Billy) and his maternal grandmother was called Alice. (Although i think she may have got the name Alice from Alice and Wonderland). One evening, DD said that William had left that evening to go back to his own house. I asked where he lived and she said 'in college'. Turns out said grandfather worked in the accounts department of a university!

so myself and my husband kind of jokingly thought it was a ghost. But DD said her imaginary friends were children anyway. TBH, I think they might be extensions of herself and she like to play with words, language and stories and make things up about them.

My question is this, should we concerned now due to the following: We've always kind of 'accepted' the imaginary friends and allowed her to talk about them, etc, as I reckoned it was normal at this age. She is in a montessori, seems clever for her age, seems to have lots of friends there and is doing well. But lately she's been saying she likes to play on her own or 'with William'. we just came back from holidays where she met all her cousins. We had a great time, mostly she got on great with everyone, but i notice my DD can half little fights with her cousins if they don't play games her way, etc.

I should mention I also have 1 year old ID twin DSs, and the imaginary friends came along around the same time they did. I read a lot about imaginary friends coming at a time of change, etc.

The other night, things got a but weird (and trippy to be honest!) when DD was telling us that William was beside us in his flying car when we were driving back from the montessori. She said he gave her 'white peas' to eat. She said 'you can buy them in Spar but only William can see them hidden behind the carrots'. She also said she wasn't going to share them with us!

It sounded a bit (no offence anyone) but mad. Is it time to ring a child psychologist or is all this perfectly normal? Should we take the hard line and tell her to stop the whole pretend friend thing as maybe we've encouraged it?

Sorry for long rant/story but couldn't be more concise.

Flisspaps Fri 12-Aug-11 18:09:38

Doesn't sound particularly odd to me. I'd have thought she'd grow out of it when she's ready.

worraliberty Fri 12-Aug-11 18:10:51

I wouldn't encourage it at all. It has been allowed to escalate and is way OTT now from the sound of it.

StrandedBear Fri 12-Aug-11 18:12:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AgentZigzag Fri 12-Aug-11 18:13:23

My 10 YO DD used to have an imaginary friend called 'girl' who used to freak us out a bit, she also had imaginary dogs and mice as well.

We just played along with her and they went away after a while.

Writing that sentence seems to minimalise it, but at the time we did question whether it was an expression of something she was finding hard to deal with, turns out it wasn't and it was innocent and natural playing.

I wouldn't tell her to stop, why would you? So long as it's not causing a problem (other than you worrying) just let it run its course smile

DeepPurple Fri 12-Aug-11 18:15:05

From a bowel ha ha grin

wahwahwah Fri 12-Aug-11 18:15:17

My sister had 2 who ended up staying at the old house when we moved. She was about 4 at the time. That was probably when she realised that she could do naughty things and blame me rather than them!

MiaWallace Fri 12-Aug-11 18:16:25

I wrote my dissertation on imaginary friends so have done lots of research on the phenomenon.

My dd also had 2 imaginary friends until she was 5.

I would advice you not to encourage or try to stop it. Let it run its course. She will soon grow out of them, and you will be surprised how much you will miss her talking about them when they are gone.

If you want to read up about imaginary friends I would highly recommend this book

DeepPurple Fri 12-Aug-11 18:16:49

I think it sounds perfectly normal and it's just a sign of a good imagination. It might be worth encouraging her to play with others more and see if these imaginary friends begin to disappear.

BBwannaB Fri 12-Aug-11 18:20:31

My DD's imaginary friend also appeared at the same time as her baby sibling, but went away after a few months, only to appear again every time we went on trip or a holiday. This went on for a few years, I guess it goes back to the change/comfort theory. I wouldn't worry about it, she's a grown up with real friends now but still quite bossy

julienoshoes Fri 12-Aug-11 18:23:19

Doesn't sound abnormal to me either.

DD1 had an imaginary friend from a very early age, I can't remember any particular event triggering it. "Lucy" was with us long before dd2 was born for instance.
There were times when we thought along similar lines to you....and felt quite spooked on a couple of occasions.
DD1 would have been outraged if we had tried to get rid of Lucy and I'm damn sure now as an adult she'd have given me a real ear bashing if we'd taken her to a psycholgist about it! She just says that Lucy seemed very real to her at the time.

I think she was about 8 when Lucy left us to go and live in America. I think if I asked DD1 where Lucy is even now, she'd give me the same answer.

Your daughter will grow up out of it. It really isn't abnormal:

Marjorie Taylor, professor of psychology at the University of Oregon and author of Imaginary Companions and the Children Who Create Them found that 65 percent of all children have make-believe friends at some point in their young lives

AgentZigzag Fri 12-Aug-11 18:24:57

Oddly DD1 is quite bossy too BB grin

Maybe they're just opportunities to have at least one person who'll do as they're told grin

izzywhizzyletsgetbusy Fri 12-Aug-11 18:27:06

I had lots of 'imaginary' friends when I was small; they went away when I turned 7 but one of them came back when I reached my teens and is often around me to this day.

Take Mia's advice - and check in Spar to see if there are any stray tins of chick peas or butter beans lurking behind the carrots grin

professorsnape Fri 12-Aug-11 19:22:09

thanks miawallace going to amazon that book!

agree worraliberty - feel a bit guilty now what we let it go so out of hand

squeakytoy Fri 12-Aug-11 19:26:48

My (now 5) year old granddaughter had an imaginary friend from the age of about 3, until quite recently. She has always had a very vivid imagination and we loved hearing the tales of what "fred" was doing... She started school full time last September and "fred" has not been mentioned since..

Sirzy Fri 12-Aug-11 19:27:35

Sounds perfectly normal and certainly nothing to worry about. I used to have a whole host of imaginary friends when I was little, its normal!

I had faries living in the garden and knew which one lived in each plant and got very upset with my dad when he cut the "school" down (also known as a weeping willow tree :D) - I was under 4 at the time!!

Dont try to stop it, you wont manage anyway. She will grow out of it in her own time.

LolaRennt Fri 12-Aug-11 19:31:54

I think it sounds like a lot of fun smile

youarekidding Fri 12-Aug-11 19:33:36

My DS imaginary friend is a shortened version of his name (which incidently he refuses to be called). Sometimes X is a liitle boy he plays with and sometimes he's an adult who he can stay with when he doesn't want to go out to supermarket/ run errands with me. hmm grin

He gets mentioned sporadically and I just nod and smile. DS is 7yo next week and he talks about him less and less.

youarekidding Fri 12-Aug-11 19:34:09

Which my DS refuses to be called BTW NOT his imaginary friend. grin

AgentZigzag Fri 12-Aug-11 19:46:50

I made up shit about a fairy living in our apple tree for DD, she used to make him a little cake when we were baking, write letters to him and stuff, she never had any ill effects from me doing I don't think.

But is it that you know imaginary friends are a normal part of growing up and imagination, but you're worried it's an indicator for something more 'serious', ie you don't want your DD to be trying to tell you something important, and you ignore her thinking it's innocent?

Unless it's a creepy, sinister character, is it possible to let a childs imagination run away with them?

Making up stories, and playing along with characters children make up is important isn't it? Else why bother reading to them?

wigglesrock Fri 12-Aug-11 19:51:18

My 3.9 year old dd2 has a friend called Ghostie! He appeared well over a year ago, way before she knew she was going to have a younger sibling. To be honest ghostie has been making less of an appearance since dd3 was born. She never insists on setting a place for him etc but Ghostie has a huge family who often play as well. For example if we were going somewhere, Ghostie would have been the week before etc.

OhYouBadBadKitten Fri 12-Aug-11 19:52:36

I used to love dds imaginary friends. I was a bit blush when my Mum was admiring her imagination and I didnt have the heart to tell her that dd's current friends were characters from my favourite playstation game. oops.

notevenamousie Fri 12-Aug-11 19:55:45

DD's imaginary friend appeared just before her second birthday, and he is just starting to lessen - she's 4.8 now. He's a green dragon, and she doesn't half boss him around! The flying by the car thing would probably pass as normal conversation in our house.

spiderlight Fri 12-Aug-11 19:55:58

I had an imaginary monster who lived behind our shed. He was called Monst. I rather miss him now!

I think your daughter sounds like a very imaginative and creative little girl. As long as she has plenty of 'real' friends as well as William and Alice, I wouldn't worry too much.

OooohShiny Fri 12-Aug-11 20:00:00

When I was that age the Bay City Rollers lived in my bedroom hmm unfortunately they left before anyone could see them sad

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