Imaginary Companions in Childhood

Many preschool children involve imaginary companions in their games. According to Kali and Cavanaugh (2003), earlier, it was believed that companions appearing in children’s plays and fantasies were relatively rare, but later it was stated that it is quite a common phenomenon. Bitonte (2012) reports that about 65% of children from three to five years old have an imaginary friend. Playing with imaginary companions can be regarded as a normal activity associated with a number of advantages.

According to a range of research, children that have imaginary friends tend to be more sociable and active. Kali and Cavanaugh (2003) report that they have more real friends and a more advanced imagination. Interaction with imaginary friends can also help to adjust to social problems that occur in the adolescent period (Kali & Cavanaugh, 2003). According to the website (n.d.), a child can share private information with such companions. Besides, children are sometimes not ready to be responsible for their actions and share the responsibility with their companions. Thus, having imaginary friends correlates with a number of positive characteristics.

However, in some cases, parents should be attentive and not let their children be involved in play with imaginary friends too actively. A child should have some real friends in order to develop social skills properly. However, parents can support the game, pretending that the friend really exists and, for example, serving a table for them or asking the child about them. Besides, parents are advised not to manipulate their children with the help of imaginary friends. In most cases, children lose their imaginary companions at the age of three or five. Thus, parents should not worry about the fact that their child has an imaginary friend, as it promotes the social development of a child.


Bitonte, K. (2012). Imaginary friends improve emotional health into adulthood, says expert. USA Today. Web.

Canavaugh J. C., & Kali R. V. (2003). Human development: A life-span view. Thomson Learning.

Family Resource (n.d.). Imaginary friends: should you be concerned. Web.

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PsychologyWriting. "Imaginary Companions in Childhood." September 12, 2023.