My Almost 3 Yr Old Has an Imaginary Friend Who Is a Trouble-maker

Updated on October 27, 2010
A.R. asks from Danbury, CT
10 answers

Hi Moms,

I have absolutely no experience with "imaginary friends" as I never had one, my brothers never had them, my friends never had them... I don't know ANYONE who ever had an imaginary friend. But my almost-3 yr old has one. At first I thought it was cute. Last summer he started talking about his friend Devie, and he'd pretend to call on the phone and invite him over etc. But now he is talking about this friend, A LOT. And Devie is turning out to be quite the trouble maker. Any time my son cries now, he blames it on Devie. "Devie pushed me." "Devie took my juice." "Devie won't go to bed." Just this week, his 2 teachers at daycare asked me about Devie because son has been talking about him so much. Is it common for kids with imaginary friends to blame bad behavior on their alter-ego? Should I be concerned?

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S.D.

answers from Washington DC on

My 4 year old daughter has one too. "Rosie" is her name. Rosie is to blame for ALL bad things my daughter does! LOL "Rosie spilled the milk, Rosie hit me, Rosie kicked the seat, etc." When Rosie "misbehaves" I yell at her! LOL Some times Rosie comes home, some times she stays at grandma's. Rosie seems pretty real to my daughter, so I treat her as if she was really there. I know I'm strange. :)

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K.F.

answers from New York on

Ahhh, the days of the imaginary friend. I almost miss my son's imaginary friend, Sardine. She was quite a handful.

Yes my son blamed every bad act on Sardine from the spilled milk to the pulled cat's tail but in the end it was my son who had to clean up, apologise and take the punishments for "Sardine's" misbehavior.

I don't think there is reason to be overly concerned but make it very clear that your little one will be held resonsible for the things he does and begin to encourage real relationships with other kids. Have more play dates or have play dates and get him involved in team sports or even activities like tumbling and swimming. As he begins to have relationship with real children his imaginary friend will begin to disappear from the scene.

My son's response after I noticed Sardine was no longer around was that she just "left." and she never came back. Thank God for that. She was such a terror.

3 moms found this helpful
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S.D.

answers from Washington DC on

My 4 year old daughter has one too. "Rosie" is her name. Rosie is to blame for ALL bad things my daughter does! LOL "Rosie spilled the milk, Rosie hit me, Rosie kicked the seat, etc." When Rosie "misbehaves" I yell at her! LOL Some times Rosie comes home, some times she stays at grandma's. Rosie seems pretty real to my daughter, so I treat her as if she was really there. I know I'm strange. :)

2 moms found this helpful
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D.K.

answers from San Francisco on

Very normal. My imaginary friend was Mr. Nobody. My youngest's imaginary friend was Jiff. Jiff stayed around for a long time. And yes Jiff was responsible for bad behavior. When I would ask who did ... I would be told Jiff. I would even ask questions about Jiff. Where is he now? What's he look like? I know of no research that says anything bad about an imaginary friend. He will be gone in no time. Enjoy the imaginary friend. They obviously serve a purpose to the child.

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M.D.

answers from Dallas on

My older two kids had imaginary friends, my son had an imaginary dog. My daughter's imaginary friend was her twin sister from Mexico. The babysitters would ask me about her twin, that she never had that lived in Mexico. I had to explain it a lot to people because she had them believing about her twin. I don't remember any bad behavior being the caused by the imaginary friends. For the most part my kids are pretty normal teenagers. The imaginary friends lasted a couple of years. Every now and then I'll bring it up and we all just laugh...I don't think you should be concerned about the imaginary part. I would address the bad behavior and that we cannot blame others for our behavior.

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D.J.

answers from St. Louis on

He is quite young now, but i would humor him and monitor Devie, if Devie appears to hurt him or scare him, he could be experiencing some para normal issues. As long as it is harmess behavior, blaming his bad conduct on Devie, that is normal for a imaginary friend. These friends can stay around for a while. Good luck

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L.B.

answers from Stockton on

My oldest son had two, Tiger did the bad things like breaking two windows and a lamp (after the third one, my son got a whop on the butt and was told to let Tiger know that's what happens when "he" breaks things) and Lion who would tease my son. He's 17 now and it's a funny memory. My youngest has a "friend" that he just calls baby. Baby plays with him and sometimes does naughty things which my son comes and tells me about. My middle two didn't have any. Kids have amazing imaginations and it's a treat to be able to experience it through them!

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J.S.

answers from Los Angeles on

Wow I didn't realise how normal it is for littles one to have friends that us adults can't see. My parents adopted a little boy at the age of one week old. He just turned 4 and for the past 2 years he has been talking about a little girl named Sally that comes and plays with him in his room. I have yet to see Sally. As he has gotten older he says Sally hits him and takes his toys, or when he does something that he shoudn't be doing he blames it on Sally doing it. But what worried me is that he say's that sally doesn't like my little sister that is 7 and lives in the home with him, and that sally wants to hurt my little sister. But any who.. you are not alone. My mom made an appointment for him to be seen by mental health and the mental health people didn't seem to concerned. But trust me I am worrried because last night when my 4 year old daughter and I were sleeping, At 2am I woke up to her toys going off and my daughter was sounded asleep next to me. The little boy said it was Sally playing with my daughters toys. That upset me..

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D.P.

answers from Pittsburgh on

I think it's a normal phase and he will move on eventually. It's kind of funny!

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M.R.

answers from Phoenix on

Have you ever take a course or read a book about Early Childhood Development? I highly recommend it if you haven't. Children's imagination and ability to distinguish between real and imaginary is not concrete yet. So having imaginary friends is the normal outcome of that developmental stage. Is he an only child? Sometimes more frequent with them too.

My oldest daughter, alone until the age of 10, had a long time imaginary friend. I would ask about her...how she was doing, where she was, what she was up to. I would even set the dinner table for her 'friend' and asked what she would like to eat - and yes, obliged and put food on her plate. I did not learn this from my family of origin. We did not need imaginary friends with 7 siblings running around to engage with. So I was shocked by my own daughter engaging with such 'nonsense' at the time. So was relieved to know it is considered a normal part of development.

My point is that I wonder what would happen if you accepted his friend and then you can talk to him about why his friend is being mean/rude/pushing, etc. It is certainly worth a try and it might just make him into a better friend to have around.

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K.P.

answers from New York on

If a child has an imaginary friend, it is common to blame poor behavior on the "friend". My younger sister had an imaginary friend and it lasted for some period of time (almost a year). The best thing you can do is have a short chat with your son and let him know that Devie isn't real and that you do not want to talk about him. When "Devie" does something, simply say... "No, Jack- you knocked your drink over and now you need to help me clean it up". Don't make a huge issue out of it, but make it clear that you know he isn't real and that your son will have consequences for his actions & Devie's!

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