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Imaginary friends "fine"

Thursday January 13th, 2011

Young children who have imaginary friends are in perfect mental health, psychologists say today.

Parents should not be alarmed when a child chatters away to a non-existent friend, according to a study conducted in Essex, UK.

Researchers found that having a friend in the head helped young children in all sorts of way.

This included helping them to deal with being scared and having someone to talk to in all situations.

The researchers talked to children aged between five and 11 and found that as children got older the friend might still be around - but the child would tend to hide it from others.

Researcher Dr Karen Majors was unveiling her findings at a conference of the British Psychological Society in Gateshead, England.

She said: "Some parents are concerned when they hear their child chattering away to an invisible companion but this research shows this is mostly just a normal part of healthy child development.

"The children recognised their imaginary friends weren't real but they still felt they were important and special."

Tags: Child Health | Mental Health | UK News | Women’s Health & Gynaecology

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