Biker Boy and I have a morning ritual where he jumps into bed with me for a cuddle and I ask him about his dreams. It started out of pure maternal curiosity but now I use it give me insight into what he is thinking or feeling. I believe dreams give me an insight into my psyche so of course, I do the same with my boy. By listening to his dreams, I have figured out what he’s afraid of or excited about. Most of the time, it’s a recounting of something that happened the day before or watched on tv.
Bright and too early this morning, Biker Boy excitedly told me about a superhero version of his play-date with Berry Girl, my friend’s daughter. They had spent most of the play-date playing with Berry Girl’s ride-on cars which are the coolest things I’ve seen in a while. When he started telling me about the dream, I immediately thought that it would just be a rehash of the previous day but it wasn’t. In his dream, he and his friend battled some bad guys while in their ride-on cars which could now transform! The important part is that he said he didn’t feel afraid and when he and Berry Girl took on the bad guys , he felt like he didn’t need his parents. What I am taking from this dreams that he is aware that his growing independence from his parents and he is comfortable with the transition. It was bittersweet because while I am so proud that he is strong and independent, I am aware that he is no longer my little baby.
I checked one of my favorite websites, Psychology Today,
for validation to get a psychologist’s take on children’s dreams. According to Psychology Today, there are five reasons why parents should listen to their children’s dreams:
1. Dreaming is part of human experience. Scientists have shown that all mammals dream, and that as children we spend more time dreaming than we do as adults. In fact neuroscientist J. Allan Hobson calculated that by the age of 70, most adults will have spent six years of their lives dreaming. That is a significant part of our lifespan to ignore!
2. Dreams can be fun. Children regularly dream of things they love, such as friends, family, pets, favorite celebrities and cartoon characters and like to talk about their dream adventures.
3. Some children may have spiritual dreams. As psychoanalyst Carl Jung noted many ‘big’ or spiritually significant dreams occur in childhood. Recent research with children shows that many experience at least one dream which is highly meaningful and can shape their thoughts and actions.
4. Nightmares are frightening. Yet nightmares are a normal part of childhood sleep. Children will need to try to make sense of them and will need your help. Whilst it is tempting to reassure them that the monster in the nightmare isn’t real, it will certainly feel real to them and can make them fearful of going to sleep in case it returns. Try asking them to draw the images and then draw a different version with a happier ending.
5. Children just want to share with you. Just as children are eager to tell you their thoughts, feelings and what they have been doing whilst awake, they are often keen to tell you what they have been doing in their sleep. Listening will mean a lot to them and can help to bring you closer.
A final point made in the article is to not force the little ones to tell their dreams. There are some mornings when Biker Boy acts like I asked him to pick up his toys when I ask him about his dreams so I stop and I try again the next day. As with all things in mommyhood, consistency and repetition are key. Are your kids sharing their dreams? Let me know in the comments.
- My Child Has Nightmares (hypnotherapyforchildren.wordpress.com)