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AngelRho
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11 Sep 2010, 8:18 am

OK, I thought about posting this in the parenting forum, but it's not really an issue with autistic children...

Anyway...

My son, who is 3, has regressed back into a phase of intense separation anxiety. I mean, when his mom has to leave the house to run errands, he goes absolutely berserk, flinging himself on the floor, spazzing out, crying MOOOOOMMMYYYYYYYYYYY, and just completely shuts down. I've resorted to fairly extreme measures in the past, but obviously I haven't gotten very far with it.

So this week, we (his mother and I) made an interesting discovery. His mother was ready to give him the beat-down of his life after he had become really angry with her. So he was in "time-out" in his room, still screaming, after several minutes when I went in to talk with him. I explained that he was being bad and that's why mommy was acting the way she was. He insisted he'd done nothing wrong, but it was mommy who was being bad. So after a while, I get the "real" story from my son: Mommy had hurt his "cow." I said, "I see. OK, stay right here for a minute, buddy, while I go talk to mommy." So I explained the situation to Mom, after which we both went back explaining to him that we didn't know about the cow. Mommy apologized for offending the cow.

Fast forward to this morning. Just a little while ago, mom had to make an impromptu run to the grocery (we're out of that precious commodity--coffee!). She asks me if I want to keep him distracted so she can get away. I said, "Nah, let him scream," being the mean father that I am. ;) Well, it took about 5 minutes for him to notice mom was gone, so he stands at the window yelling (not crying yet) "MOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMYYYYYYYYY." I ask him to come to me so I could talk to him for a second. When he came up to me I explained that mommy had to go feed the cow. Problem solved. No screaming. No tantrums. We're good!

So I guess my question is this: While the "green cow" is a fun little game, helps my little boy deal with some issues by employing an "imaginary friend," just how far should we indulge this kind of thing? I personally don't see any harm in keeping it going until he outgrows it, but what do you think?



sylbao
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11 Sep 2010, 10:29 am

I think you really did the right thing. The compensatory inventions are normal for children, especially so young. The parents have to worry about this imaginary presence only when it becomes really too intrusive in the child's life : when he begins to speak about it constantly, to want to write to it, to make panic attacks if "it is not there ", etc. It is then necessary to intend to consult a specialist.



IdahoRose
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11 Sep 2010, 1:35 pm

Sounds like you're handling it just fine. If the imaginary friend helps your son feel better and isn't telling him to do bad things, then there is nothing wrong with playing along with it. :)



CockneyRebel
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11 Sep 2010, 10:31 pm

I had an imaginary friend, at that age. He was a tall, skinny black man and his name was Bo.


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chrissyrun
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16 Nov 2010, 10:55 pm

I had imaginary friends for a LONG time, probably until I was 11.
I would have the ones I would talk to at night.
I had the ones for in public for when I was bored or no-one would play with me.
I had ones to prove a point.
I had ones to entertain others.
I had ones for long car trips.
I had ones I would talk about.
I had ones for when I was angry.

I was popular in my imaginary world.


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xxZeromancerlovexx
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17 Nov 2010, 6:25 am

What if you still have an imaginary friend?


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luvmyaspie
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17 Nov 2010, 9:25 am

You're doing fine and I think he really will grow out of having his cow. Try not to over use it in times of desperation though because it might cause him to become overly attached to her (the green cow) and it could end up causing you all a lot of grief.

My daughter, when she was four, had two imaginary horses which came with us every time we left the house. I accepted that she had to tie them up to posts outside of every shop and untie them and walk them on an imaginary leash from shop to shop.

I always waited patiently for her to do all of this when ever we were out and about. Though I never actually encouraged it. As she got older she would sometimes forget them. I never asked her if they were coming with us and such.

Eventually they just stopped coming with us. She's nine now and the horses only exist as memories which we both share. She has fond memories of taking the horses to town and realises that they never actually existed except in her imagination.

From time to time, she asks me for recounts of how we used to go to town with her and her horses.


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CockneyRebel
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17 Nov 2010, 2:39 pm

I had imaginary friends until I was 12.


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IdahoRose
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17 Nov 2010, 3:23 pm

CockneyRebel wrote:
I had imaginary friends until I was 12.

I'm 20 and I kind of still have imaginary friends, though I definitely don't get as intense about it as I did when I was younger. It used to be that I couldn't go one day without visiting with them, but nowadays I often go several days without them. I'm hesitant to get rid of them completely though, as they are like a mental "security blanket" for me.



Smike
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17 Nov 2010, 3:25 pm

Nothing wrong with imaginary friends, especially at that age