Imaginary Friends

by Ann Douglas

Imaginary friendsYour three-year-old has taken to chatting it up with his new friend -- his new imaginary friend, that is. "Billy likes it at our house because he can jump on the beds," he tells you on the sly. "He's not allowed to do anything fun at his house."

After a couple of days, you start to feel like you'd recognize Billy on the street (except, of course, for the fact that he's invisible). But after a couple of weeks of Billy updates, you begin to wonder if this "imaginary friend" thing is getting out of hand.

According to Marjorie Taylor, a professor of psychology at the University of Oregon, who has studied the "imaginary friends" phenomenon widely, imaginary friends are extremely common. By age seven, two-thirds of children have had at least one imaginary friend.

They're also a sign of positive development. Children who have imaginary friends tend to be creative and outgoing and that they are learning to see things from someone else's perspective -- an all-important skill when it comes to making real-world friends.

Ann Douglas is the author of numerous books about pregnancy and parenting including the bestselling "The Mother of All Pregnancy Books." She regularly contributes to a number of print and online publications, is frequently quoted in the media on a range of parenting-related topics, and has appeared as a guest on a number of television and radio shows. Ann and her husband Neil live in Peterborough, Ontario. with the youngest of their four children. Learn more at her site,

Copyright © Ann Douglas. Permission to publish granted to