Skip to main content

What To Do When Your Foster Child Has Imaginary Friends

It’s common for children to have imaginary friends, but you might be wondering what to do when your foster child announces they’re bringing an invisible guest to dinner. Learn more about the current thinking on imaginary friends and what it could mean for your foster family.

Imaginary friends have a much better reputation these days. Up until the 1990s, experts including Dr. Spock believed that such behavior suggested social deficits that require professional help. More recent studies suggest that having an imaginary friend can be a positive sign of high creativity that often endures into adulthood.

The ages of 3 to 5 tend to be prime time for imaginary friends, and they usually fade away by about 10. In most cases, you can relax and share the fun until then:

Let Your Foster Child Lead

Interacting with your foster child’s imaginary friends is enriching for your foster child. Additionally, you can show interest and try to be considerate of their feelings, like any good host.

Set Limits

On the other hand, you can establish boundaries if imaginary friends become too demanding. Explain that you can’t build a time machine or paint a bedroom purple.

Appreciate Variety

Imaginary friends come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. They may be human or otherwise. The friends could be invisible or be a character associated with an object like a stuffed toy.

Consider Counseling

If your foster child has experienced mistreatment in the past, you may need to watch to see whether the imaginary friend is playing any role in the situation. For example, they may be involved in keeping potentially harmful secrets. As always, talk with your foster agency and other professionals about your concerns so you can keep your foster child safe and happy.


At 2INgage, we serve vulnerable children and families. Contact us for more information about foster care in Region 2 of Texas, including the Abilene and Wichita Falls area.