Sometimes I think a child's imaginary friend is actually a spirit who reaches out to the child because they have yet to be able to distinguish between what's real and what isn't. Therefore, they are more likely not to dismiss the fact that there is a spirit showing itself to them.
My only experience with imaginary friends was my younger cousin. His "friend" was kind of scary, because my cousin would blame the strangest things on him and would know things he shouldn't know for his age. It's really hard to explain unless you've experienced it firsthand.
We're starting to wonder if my son has an imaginary friend. He calls him "the kid." He'll tell us that "the kid" did something or that a certain toy isn't his; it's "the kid's." I'm not sure what to make of it.
I had imaginary friends. I had a LOT of them, even after my brother was born. My most prominent imaginary friend was Tinkerbell. I *loved* Tink so much. She would help me with my physical therapy and everything. Do I still have imaginary friends? I don't call them that anymore, but I guess in a way my spirit guides could be considered that to those who don't understand how the metaphysical world works.
I don't remember having imaginary friends but a family story goes that when Mom and I got on the bus I would save one seat for ??? and if someone tried to sit down there I would announce, "No, you'll sit on the kids."
My mom says that I had an imaginary hippopotamus and alligator that lived under my bed. I don't remember it at all. Only one of my children had imaginary friends - my oldest before her siblings were born. They were Big Bob and Little Bob. It was cute. When her brother was born, she wanted to name him Bob.
I had a number of imaginary friends when I was younger, but they were mainly characters from my favourite tv cartoons. I think it does help young children build their learning skills as they get to express themsleves confidently in private and this reflects when they get to read and learn more about fictional characters and stories.