Parenting--Toddlers/Infants/Pre-Schoolers/Need Help!


QUESTION: Hi! I have a 9 year old brother. He made an imaginary friend because he don't have any friend and nobody is interested in what he us saying since he is youngest in our home. He didn't tell us about his friend but he kept talking to him and start sharing his problems with his imaginary friend. Pretty soon he start believing that his imaginary friend is a real person and get angry on us when we don't belive him. We took him to a psychologist who told my brother that he can also see his imaginary friend. They start sharing lots of things then one day psychologist told my brother that he saw his imaginary friend dying in an accident. My brother went in shock. Eventually he came out. But now he sees lots of scary things which are not in real (possibly hallucinations). He saw people dying in his nightmares. He gets very scared in dark. Can you please tell me what to do?
Confused Sister!

ANSWER: Hello Rahima,
You should be concerned about your brother. While it is normal for younger children to have imaginary friends, it is not that normal or typical for children over the ages of six or seven to have imaginary friends.
I would suggest that you take him to another psychologist or psychiatrist (professionals who are experienced in working with children) for a new assessment and recommendations. A serious mental illness should be ruled out.
Your brother is fortunate to have a caring sister.
James Windell

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Can you tell me how to cure children with imaginary friend. I'll take my brother to another psychologist, ofcourse. But I wanna know if another one will cure him in right manner. Just need some info. Like how will you cure somebody like my bro.

Hello Rahima,
I don't think the immediate question should be about how to cure him of having an imaginary friend.
As I indicated previously, it is very normal for somewhat younger children to have imaginary friends or companions. Most of them grow out of it on their own. The real concern is: is your brother thinking and functioning at a healthy level? Is your brother immature? Or is his imaginary friend a symptom of a more serious mental illness?
That is why I suggested taking him to another psychologist or psychiatrist to have him assessed and evaluated. The initial question revolves around this: Is he suffering from a mental illness? What the psychologist or psychiatrist finds out should lead to the next critical stage: how should he be treated? Either or both therapy or medication could possibly be recommended.
I hope this helps?
James Windell


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James Windell


I can answer questions related to normal child development, disturbed behavior and how to provide appropriate guidance and discipline.


I've been a clinical psychologist in a juvenile court, worked in school settings, been a child psychotherapist in a private psychiatric clinic and consulted with schools, courts, hospitals and daycare centers.

American Psychological Association
Michigan Psychological Association

I have been a columnist with the Oakland Press (Oakland County, MI) for 21 years writing a weekly column called Coping With Kids, which is also published weekly in the Staten Island Advance. I have been a mental health columnist with the Detroit Free Press and a columnist for Working Mother Magazine. In addition, I have published articles in professional journals. I have published 16 books, among them are "8 Weeks to a Well-Behaved Child" (IDG Books), "Discipline: A Sourcebook of 50 Failsafe Techniques for Parents" (IDG Books); "Children Who Say No When You Want Them to Say Yes" (IDG Books), "What You Need to Know About Ritalin" (Bantam Books) "6 Steps to an Emotionally Intelligent Teenagers" (John Wiley & Sons), "The Fatherstyle Advantage" (Stewart, Tabori & Chang) and "Defusing High Conflict Divorce" (Impact Publishers). My latest parenting book (2012) is "The Everything Child Psychology and Development Book." Articles about my work with parents has appeared in the New York Times, the Chicago Sun Times, the Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press. My website at includes more information about me, my books and includes many columns I've written.

B.A. in Psychology from Wayne State University
M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Oakland University

Awards and Honors
Best Educational Program by Juvenile and Family Court Judges Association (National award for the development of a parent training program for parents of delinquent teenagers. Beth Clark Service Award from the Michigan Psychological Association.

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