Anyone who has kids has to wonder about how to speak with children about dreams and nightmares. It’s a tricky subject because our children have such a different emotional state than we do—particularly at a young age where it has been argued that children do not dream narrative dreams (whereas adults dream fairly exclusively in narrative). We’ve pulled together some guidelines for things you can do to make sure you have a productive conversation with your kids about their dreams and nightmares.
1. Listen to them.
There is little better that you can do for your children than listen to them. When a child has a dream or nightmare, accept what it is and that it was a real experience.
2. Support them.
After you have sat with your child and listened to their nightmare, make sure they know that you are interested in their interior life including their dreams and nightmares. By supporting their imagination and emotional development, you’ll ensure that they have a healthy approach to imagination and the ability to develop skill crucial to their life’s success.
If your child has a nightmare, ask them what scared them and come up with a solution together to make the experience not scary—take the mystery out of it. It’s wonderful if this is a child-driven exercise.
-        when you are putting your child to bed, invite good dreams. Talk about what kind of dreams they’d like to dream about tonight.
-        When a child has a nightmare, do something immediately to get rid of the negative energy. Talk about ways to demystify the scary and find a way to make the scary funny.
3. Ask good questions.
Take the opportunity to get to know your child and ask good questions when they share a dream or nightmare with you. This is your chance to help him or her understand and analyze their own dreams. It can be a brilliant glimpse into the interior life of a child.
4. Help the child to keep a dream journal.
If your children are interested in their own dreaming life, encourage them to keep a journal. This will help them begin to remember their dreams and will give them a leg up as their dreams become important to them.
5. Don’t interpret a child's dreams.
We all know that the only person who can interpret a dream is yourself. Dream symbolgy and meaning comes from the person, not an external place like a dream dictionary. If your child is interested in what his or her dreams mean, they help them interpret and give them the tools to better understand their dreaming life.