Dreams are an important part of processing information, they provide a safe environment with which the child can express any repressed fears or emotions that they are unable to express during their waking hours.
Engaging with your child and communicating to them the importance of talking about their dreams is opening a doorway to helping them understand the benefits of analysing their emotions and overall experiences – therefore providing them with the room to acknowledge just how important their feelings are – benefiting not only themselves but improving your relationship with your child and gaining a better understanding of your childs fears and concerns – giving you a greater insight to what you can do as parent to guide them in the areas that they may need help with.
To your child it is an acceptable form of communication – they are unwittingly telling you through their dreams the things that they may be unable to express – for reasons of clarity or uncertainty – whether it be a nightmare or a happy dream – they are telling you of their fears or the things that instill them with confidence. Talking about your child’s dreams should be used as a technique to improve communication and to develop a greater understanding of your child’s wants and needs. Dreams provide great insight, and discussing them with your child in a caring, positive and understanding way will improve your bond and instill in them the confidence to talk to you about anything that they find important.
Your child’s dreams will always largely reflect the things that they come into contact with on a daily basis. This includes everything from animals, places, modes of transport, toys, visual media and last but not least the tidbits of conversations from one adult to another. Children are very perceptive and they take on board more than you realize – because in their own way they are trying to assimilate surrounding information the best way that they can by using the only things that are available to them – their emotions – and the things that they come into contact with on a daily basis.
Their perception of the world lies in the things that you allow them as a parent to watch and listen to. Age appropriate material is more important now than ever before, the games that their older siblings may play on the PS3 are more graphic and violent than in previous times, therefore introducing to unsuspecting minds, visual information that they are too young to understand. If your child is not ready these images will cross over into their dreams, providing the space and room for unnecessary nightmares.
It goes without saying, if your child is surrounded in an emotionally unstable environment then their dreams will by and large reflect this. Nurturing a positive environment is a sure way of instilling in your child the right to a good nights sleep – providing the opportunity for them to engage in other kinds of dreams, giving them the room for creative and healthy play that will cross over in to their day – and vice versa.
The emotional nature of the dream is the essential key to understanding what is they are dreaming about and why.
0 – 4 years
Comforters, Soft toys, Monsters.
Often in these early stages of development children will dream about instability and change – minor or major – this can come in the form of anything that they hold dear – comforters, soft toys and pacifiers. If their world is even a little shaken up – this can result in dreaming that they have lost their favourite item and is showing you as a parent that there is a need to comfort your child just that little bit more, to show them that everything is and will be OK, that they have your undivided attention and unconditional love at all times – regardless of what may be happening around them. Change comes in many forms, whether it be changes within the family unit or changes for your child – moving from the cot to a larger bed or toilet training are among the biggest, these are very important to your young child, and if there is fear attached to it, it will manifest in the dream state usually taking the form of a monster.
5 – 9
Battle scenarios, Unrealised monsters or scary people that they never quite get to see, Adventures with Friends, Animals and Parents.
This is where the things that take place on the school ground take up a lot of time in their dreams, how they fare in their sleep is how they are actually finding the process of starting school, how well they make friends and how they find the social conditions. Battle dreams, and the odd monster – which is important to remember is their unvocalised fear – are prevalent at this time, for the social impact of the early stages of school are the hardest to navigate. Animals are predominant at this time, showing themselves to almost human like, or talking, and are generally a reflection of other students, friends or teachers. Your child is at a particularly watchful stage and in their own way are trying to understand the very sensitive nature of friendships and boundaries.
Friends, Talking Animals, Animals in general and Parents,
This is an important time in your child’s life, for they are moving away from their old friends and beliefs to get ready for high school. Many of their dreams at this point depict friends and school, for this is a very big part of their lives. You will find the common theme of growth and this takes shape in many forms – friends leaving, disappearing or behaving differently than they usually do or people that they know to be young appearing older – which is representing old ideas and beliefs attached to the person in the dream, usually readying your child for new friends and new experiences associated with leaving some if not all old friends behind. This is also an important time for the beginning stages of independence, how they cope with this can be defined within the dream state by dreams about control or lack there of – this usually manifests in the shape of parents, long journeys and dark tunnels.
Parents, New Friends, Social Situations, Natural Disasters and Animals.
High School is well under way, dreams will predominantly focus on how your child feels academically and socially, for this is where they need to find their own feet. New found Independence associated with this is also high on the agenda, and this will often take place in the form of leaving parents on the outskirts of their dreams – almost as a safety device to give them room to practice their independence. New found interests will also dominate their dream scape, with new challenges and social obligations at the forefront – they will find that their dreams may have socially confronting themes, sometimes taking shape in the form of a natural disaster.
The dreamscape changes for your child dependent on their age, as they grow, their needs change, their concept of the world around them expands and through their dreams they are learning and processing information that will help them to make decisions and move forward into the next stages of development.