My child has an imaginary friend, should I be concerned?

Having an imaginary friend is more common than you might think -- approximately 40-65% of children have an imaginary friend during the preschool years. While extremely common, many parents are concerned that this type of play might be indicative of extreme shyness and difficulties establishing normal relationships with peers. Fortunately, recent research challenges these commonly held assumptions. Children who have imaginary friends are in fact less shy, have more advanced social skills, and have no difficulty establishing healthy peer relationships. So let your child enjoy the company of his/her new friend, and enjoy watching his/her imagination unfold before your eyes. If you would like to learn more about imaginary friends, Dr. Marjorie Taylor wrote a great book for parents called “Imaginary Friends and the Children Who Create Them.” 

Jennie Ito, Ph.D.

Child Development Expert

Jennie Ito is a mother of two and a child development consultant who specializes in children’s play and toys. Before becoming a consultant for LeapFrog, she was an intern at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, and later worked as a content expert for the Association of Children’s Museum’s “Playing for Keeps” Play Initiative. Jennie earned her doctorate degree in developmental psychology at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada.