As parents and guardians, you are often on your own to figure out how to be your children’s first dream guide as their dreams unfold before you. This is a wonderful opportunity! My father was my first dream guide when I was four years old, and I have continued this tradition while raising my own (now adult, and teenaged) children. Teaching your children about dreams as they develop and become ready to learn more about them, will allow you and your children the opportunity to strengthen and deepen your relationship.
Here are some tips to help you honor your children by honoring their dreams.
The first way to meet the needs of your dreaming children is to continue to develop your relationship with, and understanding of—your own dreams.
Children respect when the adults in their lives continue to work on and develop themselves. When you write your dreams down, you are modeling that for your children, and letting them know that dreams are important to you.
When your children start reporting dreams to you, show interest.
Whether your child is excited, happy, or upset: stay calm, show curiosity, and ask questions. ‘Open your heart’ to your child. No matter what kind of dreams they share with you, remember to thank them for sharing the dream with you. You can say positive, affirming statements such as, “Thank you for sharing your dream” and “That was a good dream!” because in the big picture, all dreams are ‘good.’
On the other hand, don’t pressure your children to report dreams they don’t want to, or that they don’t remember—they’ll just make something up!
Develop a good understanding of how nightmares can be helpful in the service of healing and wholeness.
If you approach your own nightmares in a way that turns fear into empowerment, then you will be able to ‘hold space’ for your children, and your confidence will help them relax. They will sense that they can learn from you how to face their own nightmares with courage too.
When your children have nightmares:
- Acknowledge that something that just happened to them felt scary.
- Let your children know you are available and willing to listen.
- Do not tell a child her or his dream wasn’t real. Children experience dreams as very real… especially nightmares.
- Saying it was a dream is okay, but not just a dream because again, that belittles their experience. Try saying, “It was a dream” and “You are safe.”
- Reassure them that they are okay, and offer a hug or a cuddle.
- If you genuinely don’t feel afraid of nightmares, your children will relax even if you are discussing it with them.
Teach your children to call upon ‘Dream Allies.’
Let them know that if they feel scared of someone or something in a dream, they can call upon a friend or family member—someone they trust to be a ‘dream ally.’ This ally can help them face the ‘bad guys’ until they feel ready to face them on their own in dreams. Dream allies can be fantasy beings like in my book, The Alphabliss of Miss, http://www.dreamscloud.com/en/books/others/the-alphabliss-of-miss-120. They can be superheroes, or any other favorite fictional characters. They can also be best friends, pets, siblings, or parent figures.
Teach your children how to become brave Dreamtime Warriors.
Growing children think in pictures, and learn through their feelings. To become Dreamtime Warriors for Peace, children need to hear, retell, and creatively draw from stories. Tell them vivid tales about brave children, their adventures, and how they learned to conquer their foes, or even better—persuade, or transform enemies into allies and friends. You can remind them, “You are a brave Dreamtime Warrior!” A fun exercise is to draw self-portraits together with your child, imagining what you look like when you feel empowered in the Dreamtime.
Being ‘Number One’ in your Dream.
Teach your children, “You, the dreamer, are number one in your dream.” Tell them, “Everyone in your dream should be helpful and friendly to you.” Explain to your children that being number one in their dream means they can imagine all their wishes and needs are fulfilled in that world. When childrens’ needs are met in dreams—it makes them more content in the waking world, from the inside-out!
In case you’re wondering, “Wouldn’t that teach my child to be selfish or tyrannical?” It’s actually the opposite. In fact, I suggest you try being ‘Number One’ in your own dreams too! When we resolve conflict and experience inner peace in dreams, it allows us to be more selfless and giving to others in waking life. On the other hand, when we suffer in dreams, it makes us less available socially in waking life. That is because our deepest, often sub-conscious needs haven’t been met.
Teach your children to be Creative in Dreams.
Meeting our own needs in dreams often requires applying creativity. Here are some ideas that will help your children co-create that dreamscape where they are ‘Number One.’
• Offer them a special journal and colored pencils, so they can practice writing their dreams down, and drawing their dreams.
• Talk with your children about how their dream stories make them feel. When they have scary dreams (if they want to) they can draw the dream or nightmare, and then draw another version of the same dream but with a happier ending. They can also (if they want to) act out the dream or play it out with puppets and create happier dream endings.
• At some point, they may realize they are dreaming while they are dreaming! This is called lucid dreaming, and it opens the door to many creative possibilities.
For example, you can teach your children to:
- Face opposing forces in dreams, and try to get a clear picture of them. If you don’t know who they are, you can ask them, “Who are you?” and see what they say.
- Imagine every person, animal, plant, and thing in your dream is a part of you. If you talk to any person or thing in your dream, he, she, or it can talk back to you.
- Instead of running from scary things, create a magic backpack that holds any supplies you could possibly need simply by imagining it (think Mary Poppins’ carpet bag).
- In dreams, you can make things happen, appear, and change simply by thinking about it. Sometimes, it helps to use a tool like a magic wand to be creative, or a light saber to protect yourself and others on your dream adventures. You can use ‘spells’ from popular books or movies you like, and in dreams this ‘magic’ can work! (think Merlin or Harry Potter).
Most of all, when you talk with your children about these ideas and possibilities, have fun together ‘dreaming ‘ it up! Not only is the experience bonding, they will never forget the gift you gave them.
Dream education for parents and children is still on the cutting edge—isn’t that exciting? By simply reading this blog and practicing these tips, you are helping to make the world a better place for future generations. Thank you!
More Dream-Arts resources for parents and children can be found at www.thedreambridge.com.