Imaginary Friends Promote Real Life Skills THE POWER OF PRETEND Studies show that up to 50% of young children have imaginary companions, ranging from entirely conjured entities to beloved stuffed animals. The popular social stigma around imaginary friends is that these children must be shy or lonely, but psychologists disagree. In fact, if your child develops an imaginary friend, most psychologists say it’s an activity you should promote instead of discourage. Psychologists claim that the invention of an entire friendly persona points to the fact that the child is both creative and highly social. Imaginary scenarios also give kids an opportunity to indulge in their wildest aspirations, like going to the moon or inventing a time machine. Their creativity gives them the ability to dream, explore, and experiment in useful ways. Imaginary friends can also be there to comfort your child when they’re feeling down or experiencing a tantrum, which is helpful when they are learning how to manage their emotions. There are also many ways parents can take part in interactions with imaginary friends to strengthen their own relationship with their child. Imaginary friends can make interactive play more meaningful and can be useful in accomplishing daily routines, like cleaning up or getting ready for bed. They also provide a window into the way your child’s mind works by encouraging the vocalization of thoughts and feelings they may not otherwise share. Imaginary friends are often a proxy for the children who invent them, so the conversations your child has with or about their friend can provide a lot of insight into how your child views the world and themselves. Imaginary friends are so important to how some children learn and grow that they’ve been featured in pop culture for many years. Entertainment like “Calvin and Hobbes,” “Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends,” and even adult shows like “Supernatural” —which featured an episode about a main character’s childhood imaginary friend returning to teach him valuable lessons as an adult — portray the inventors of imaginary friends as outgoing and creative. It just goes to show that letting the imagination run wild not only encourages healthy development but can also lead to lots of fun.
Creating a healthy lifestyle is often easier with support, but if you’re struggling to find someone to join you on your path to wellness, then look to your furry friends instead. Read on for some ways to get active with your pet, and learn more about their wellness and health at PetMD.com.
RACKING UP THE MILES
A simple way to get moving with your pet is to go for a walk. If you’re looking for a bigger challenge, then try running, biking, or hiking with your pet. Anything beyond a walk may require extra obedience training or equipment — like a specialty tool that prevents your pet from colliding with your bike — but after a few loops around the trail, your pet will be begging to go again. And how can you say no to that face? Plus, this idea isn’t just for dogs. You can find leashes and harnesses for cats, lizards, ferrets, and other pets that love to get fresh air. If you have a dog that appears to be more fish than canine, swimming might be the workout for you! Swimming is a joint-friendly cardiovascular exercise that works your entire body. If you’re not one for a dip in the pool, then kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding are great for your arms and core. Meanwhile, your pet can enjoy a relaxing ride or an exciting game of fetch. Just be sure to secure your pet with a life jacket before you and your four-legged friend splash away! If you want a good full-body workout while entertaining your pet, then consider including them in traditional exercises. Entertain your pup with a game of fetch and drop down for a burpee every time it runs away. Balance your bird on your shoulder while you squat and lunge. Mentally and physically stimulate your cat by dragging a string around your body during Russian twists. With a little creativity and a few of your pet’s favorite things, both of you can work up a sweat. GOING FOR A SWIM KEEPING IT TRADITIONAL
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