Monday, 25 July 2011

friends invisible

Yesterday my 3 1/2 year old daughter met a new friend Bob. She and Bob played with her little ponies, dolls and even played dress up. Bob got sick, so she made him soup. They played for hours. Throughout the day my daughter would come up to me and tell me what she and Bob were doing. I never actually saw Bob- he is her new imaginary friend.

Rachel Simpson wrote a wonderful article, Imaginary Friends, Revealed, in which she discusses imaginary friends. She cites both Dr. Benjamin Spock and Professor Marjorie Taylor.

About 65% of children have or had imaginary friends. For many years, people believed Dr. Spock's idea that imaginary friends "raises the question of whether his real life is satisfying enough" Spock went as far as to say, " If a child is living largely in his imagination and not adjusting well with other children, especially by the age of 4, a psychiatrist should be able to find what he is lacking."

Thankfully, this isn't the belief today. Psychology professor Marjorie Taylor, of the University of Oregon debunks many negative beliefs of imaginary friends in her book, "Imaginary Companions and the Children Who Create Them." She states that, "Very often adults think there is some deficit in a child's life that sparks the creation of imaginary friends, but that isn't necessarily true."

Playing with imaginary friends is just that, playtime. "For many children," Taylor reports, "creating imaginary others is just a fun thing to do."

Children with imaginary friends do not lack social skills. Taylor says these children "tend to be more sociable and to have more friends than other children."
I agree with Taylor. It is a healthy form of imaginative play. And is a positive stage in child development. I will continue to enjoy hearing about Bob's adventures with my daughter. It is an important part of her childhood, and it will strengthen her imagination.

For more on imagination, here is a Little Sapling Toys post about make believe: The Power of Make Believe
A few more articles on imaginary friends I enjoyed reading:

Monday, 18 July 2011

reading aloud

When you read aloud to a child, 3 major things happen:
1. You bond with that child and will create happy memories associated with reading.
This happens especially with young children. My 3 year old loves to snuggle up next to me with a book. When she is older and reflects on her childhood, one memory I want her to treasure is our moments reading together.
2. You are filling that child's brain with words, syntax, meaning and phrases they wouldn't get anywhere else.
Everyday language doesn't use the same words, syntax, or phrases you find in books. Reading aloud introduces a new unique vocabulary to children. Children will soak up that vocabulary and draw upon it later in life as they expand their education.
3. You are setting an example.
Children, no matter their age, look to adults for examples. They will justify actions based on an adults' actions. Reading is no different. When children see us read, we are giving them permission to also read. When we read for pleasure we are telling our children that reading is not just associated with drudging homework.
So go grab a book and read with your child! Explore the world of Hogwarts, woodworking, Greek myths, Alice's wonderland and the happily ever afters of fairy tales.

**Information obtained from "The Read Aloud Handbook" by Jim Trelease.

Monday, 11 July 2011


My 3 year old little girl loves to be around me. While it is wonderful to be loved so much, sometimes it can be a challenge when there are things that I need to accomplish by myself. If we are going anywhere, mom has to be the one who puts her in the car seat. Mom is the one who walks her down the stairs. If I go to get the mail, or take the garbage out, she wants to go with me. If I have to leave at night, I try to wait until after she is in bed. My husband says that once she realizes I am gone, she cries and cries. 
The only exception to this attachment is if she is playing with her friend. She has a friend who she often plays with, and could care less if I was around. It was perplexing to us that she would cry and throw a fit when I would leave her with my husband.
In looking for solutions, we were given some advice which has greatly helped. If you are in a similar situation, hopefully it will help you as well!
Special activities for Dad and Child around the house: We started small by him taking her outside to ride her bicycle in our driveway. In the beginning, I would look out from the window so she knew I was nearby.
Activities within short distances to home: After she became more comfortable with the bicycle riding, he took her for a walk around our block. He pointed out the different flowers and plants, which she loved.
Trips to places the child enjoys: After about a month of doing the previous 2 activities, they took a trip to McDonald's to get a happy meal. The trip lasted about 30 minutes, and she didn't cry for me once.
Start taking quick trips, leaving the child at home: I then started running 10-15 minute errands by myself. While I was gone they would read stories or he'd give her piggy-back rides.
All these little thing are building a stronger relationship between my daughter and husband. I am happy to say that it is getting easier to be separated from her. My husband enjoys the special times he has with her, she is getting closer to her dad and I am enjoying a little more freedom. I have a girl's night out coming up, and I am hopeful I will be able to leave before bedtime!