Avatar universal

9 year old boy - overactive imagination

Hi, thanks in advance for any info.

Some backstory - my 9 year old son has been living with his mother for most of his life. She has 5 kids from 4 dads, my son being the oldest & our only one together. I've recently gotten custody of him (finally!) due to ongoing shady circumstances with her & he is now living with me, my wife, and our 5 week old baby.

My concern is that he seems to be unable to differentiate fiction from reality. I know for a fact that with his mother, the TV & video games were his babysitter, and most of his free time was spent being told to 'just go watch tv / just go play your game'.

I do not want to crush his little imagination at every turn as I think that would be cruel and/or unhealthy, but at the same time I am concerned about the fact that he doesn't understand basic things like how real violence, death, and language are. Obviously a 9 year old isn't supposed to really grasp those to the fullest, but he just seems very disconnected from reality in this regard (example: he truly believes he is constantly surrounded by a team of assassins, ready to kill everyone at his command, including for example our cat if it scratches him).

I don't want to be the father that doesn't let his kid enjoy being a kid, but I also don't want him to be a preteen nightmare that thinks Grand Theft Auto is how life really works (I don't let him play such games, but his mother did).

Sorry for the wall of text, thanks for any insight from more experienced parents.
4 Responses
Sort by: Helpful Oldest Newest
973741 tn?1342342773
Hi there and welcome.  Well, I have a 9 year old boy and a 10 year old boy.  In truth, they have vivid imaginations, play pretend, daydream about being super heroes, etc.  My sons have light saber fights by themselves with no light sabers.  You've heard of air guitar?  They do air light saber, air guns, air bow and arrows, etc.  They pretend they are flying and things like that.  

Not every kid is like that but a lot are.  I would imagine that your son has a protective cocoon around him.  When you say he really believes there is a team of assassins around him at all times . . .   okay.  Probably he doesn't REALLY believe that.  But it makes him feel good to say it.  He's a boy that has had a bit of neglect from a crummy mom . . .   BUT, that was his norm and he's been removed from it.  While I'm glad you have him ---  it's also quite hard on a kid to be uprooted from a familiar parent.  His pretend world offers him comfort.

I would NOT worry about bringing him back to reality right now.  He'll get it.  As long as he isn't doing anything dangerous like REALLY jumping off the roof to fly . . .   I'd let him be.  Maybe once in a while, check in (son, you know you really wouldn't want to shoot a canon at the cat, right?  It would hurt the cat and make a mess of the house.)  

If you believe he really has some mental health issues, then I would definitely begin therapy with a psychologist.  

But, you'd be surprised the things kids come up with and they are perfectly normal kids.  I used to play house and would continue playing when with my parents without telling them I was still playing but in my head, the game went on.  I'm a grown up now and cant believe I used to think playing house was fun (ha ha).  

good luck
Helpful - 0
189897 tn?1441126518
   i agree with Specialmom completely.  Another thing that you might want to do is to play a few video games with him.  Pick some good ones.  Of course, any outside activity together would be better.
Helpful - 0
5914096 tn?1399918987
To be honest with you, I am very concerned about any emotional issues your son may be experiencing as a direct result of parental separation, the friction he witnessed and perhaps continues to witness between you and his mom, and any kind of mistreatment he received from his mom that led to you gaining physical custody.  

True - Kids tend to have and should be expected to have a vast and overactive imagination.  However, when he is unable to determine fiction from nonfiction, he very well could be living in his imagination in an effort to emotionally cope with family stressors (coping mechanism).

If you feel that this behavior is negatively affecting your son socially, occupationally, and academically, it is time to get him evaluated by a mental health professional ASAP.
Helpful - 0
9118730 tn?1401800652
All kids have vivid imagination. Its as if they have a world of their own. Most likely it is also his way of coping to his situation. But if your father instinct tells you that there is really a cause for concern then you should bring him to a child psychologist so he can be properly evaluated.
Helpful - 0
Have an Answer?

You are reading content posted in the Child Behavior Community

Top Children's Health Answerers
189897 tn?1441126518
San Pedro, CA
Learn About Top Answerers
Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
Fearing autism, many parents aren't vaccinating their kids. Can doctors reverse this dangerous trend?
Is a gluten-free diet right for you?
We answer your top questions about the flu vaccine.
Learn which over-the-counter medicines are safe for you and your baby
Yummy eats that will keep your child healthy and happy
Healing home remedies for common ailments