Am I helping or hurting my grandson by playing along with his imaginary friend games?
my just-turned-four year old grandson is almost always another character - not himself. he chooses to be Chick Hicks or Lightning McQueen from the Cars movie, or any of a number of other characters and then asks me to converse with him as that character. I meet him from pre-school and he says' I'm Chick Hicks today - who do you want to be?' and he ususally suggests that I be Ariel (the mermaid). He can keep up a conversation and make up scenarios for us to talk about or to act out all the time we are in the car and he keeps up with the conversation and the shape of the story and never loses track of who said what and what might be the ramifications. my concern is - is this a useful activity or am I assisting him in denying himself? He really enjoys the stories (we are writing down all the stories he makes up and keeping them in the computer for him to tell his own children one day) and so do I but I wonder if this might make it more difficult for him to recognise the difference between fiction and reality. He is also quite capable of talking about what happened in school today or what he and his friends did - but he prefers to play another character
I imagine it must be pretty disconcerting to constantly interact with your grandson through fantasy play, but his behavior sounds developmentally appropriate. It is very common for children to engage in fantasy play and develop imaginary friends during the preschool years. As it turns out, a large number of children typically "grow out" of these behaviors by the time they hit kindergarten and first grade, but some children maintain strong fantasy play for many years after that!
That said, I think that it is reasonable to ask for a few minutes of your grandson's time each day in which the two of you communicate as grandmother and grandson. You might say, "I love the way we talk and play together, but I also want to know what my grandson thinks, too. So, let's spend just five minutes a day talking as grandmother and grandson and then we can play different characters after that." See how it goes and vary things based upon how he handles this kind of communication.
"he grounds him for 6-9 weeks for a c or d," is interesting, Iwould think it is a result of something else that needs to be pin pointed. I have worked with many smart children who have done porrly in school. Waht are the behaviors at home specific to the end result of poor grades? What alternatives have you both sought for increased grades? What do the teachers say? 6-9 weeks is way too long in my perspective, too many variables. Try reviewing some of our Board members web sites regarding positive re, www.gamingkrib.com including Michell Borba's work.
Hope it helps, its a tough road.