Friday, July 28, 2017

Nine Keys to Helping Kids with Their Dreams

Here's what we need to know about listening to children's dreams and supporting their imaginations: 

1. Listen up!
When a child wants to tell a dream, make room for that. Make some daily space for dream sharing. Listen to the stories and cherish them for their own sake. 

2. Invite good dreams

Pick the right bedtime reading or better still, tell stories. Help your child to weave a web of good dream intentions for the night — for example, by asking “What would you most like to do tonight?” Encourage children to sleep with a favorite stuffed animal (whether teddy bear or T-Rex) and make this a dream guardian. 

3. Provide immediate help with the scary stuff

If your child was scared by something in the night, recognize
you are the ally the child needs right now. Do something right away to move out that negative energy. Hugs usually help. Get a frightened child to spit it the yucky stuff (literally) or draw a picture of what scared her and tear it up as violently as possible. Help her choose the right stuffed animal or toy to be a guardian for the night. When things are calm, you can suggest facing what was scary and dealing with it on its own ground - with a Riddikulus spell (as used in the Harry Potter stories to banish boggarts), or befriending it or by scaring it back.

4. Ask good questions.

When the child has told her story, ask good questions. Ask about feelings, about the color of the sky, and about exactly what T-Rex was doing. See if there's something about the future. Say what you would think about this if this were your dream. Always come up with something fun or helpful to do with this story. Open up the crayon box, call grandma, etc. 

5. Help the child to keep a dream journal

Get this started as early as possible. With a very young child, you can help with the words while they do the pictures. When your child reaches the point where she closes the journal and says, “This is my secret book and you can't read it any more”
do not peek. Give her privacy, and let her choose when she'll let you look in that magic book. 

6. Provide tools for creative expression.

Encourage the child to bring dreams come alive through art, dance, theater and games, and to draw or paint dreams. Gather friends and family for dream-inspired games and performance. Puppets and stuffed animals can be great for acting out dreams. This can also be dress-up time. It's such a release for kids to portray mom or dad or other grown-ups in their lives — be ready to be shocked! 

7. Help construct effective action plans

Dreams can show us things that require further action — for example, to avoid an unhappy future event that was previewed in the dream, or to put something right in a family situation. A child will probably need adult help with such things, starting with
your help. This will require you to learn more about dreaming and dreamwork, as you are doing now.

 8. Let your own inner child out to play

As you listen to children's dreams, let the wonderful child dreamer inside you come out and join in the play. 

9. Keep it fun!
When you get the hang of this, you'll find it's about the best home entertainment you can enjoy.

Notice two things that are not on this list, but would be at the very top of a list of what not to do with a child’s dreams: 

Never say to a child “It's only a dream”. Children know that dreams are for real and that scary stuff that comes out in dreams needs to be resolved, not dismissed.

Do NOT interpret a child's dreams. You’re not the expert here; the child is.

Adapted from Active Dreaming: Journeying beyond Self-Limitation to a Life of Wild Freedom by Robert Moss. Published by New World Library. © Robert Moss. All Rights Reserved.


nancy kisich said...

Good advise for adults too! My younger brother (an adult) is autistic and has really good dream recall. Every morning he leaves me a message detailing his dreams that night. He remembers things like what direction he was walking, where the sun is, what time it is, etc. very enjoyable routine we have!

Robert Moss said...

Yes, this counsel works with dreamers of all ages.

Buddy H. Rasberry said...

I am currently reading The Three "Only" Things. It was given to me by an old neighbor and lived on my shelf for quite some time unopened. It immediately began to syhnchronize with so many things happening in my life. Nothing was as potent in letting me know that I was indeed reading the right book at the right time than this:
I was looking at my shelf wondering what I would read next after finishing "Going Home: Jesus and Buddah as brothers" by Thich Nhat Hanh. I had the distinct sensation that I was to pick a book I had been avoiding for one reason or another. In this case, my neighbor who gave me your book was a bit off the wall and your book was guilty by association. There was one other book I had also been less than thrilled about and thought maybe I would give a shot. One my grandmother had given me. Your book won my mental coin toss and it was immediately clear I had made the right choice. I called my grandmother later that evening after starting it to share with her some of my moments of serendipity I’d been having on a regular basis. She called them God winks. Cute.
After the conversation with her, I continued to read your book and was absolutely dumbfounded, yet not surprised at all, that I almost immediately found you talking about the other book I almost started instead that my grandmother had given me, The Deep End of the Ocean by Jacquelyn Mitchard. The alignments continue to reveal. I have literally only put the book down to find you online and share this small encouraging story with you here.
I hope to meet you someday and invite you to a concert or two in the near future.