Your children are going to experience dreams, and nightmares on occasion in your home. You may feel ready to become your new child’s parent, friend, teacher, cook, nurse, chauffeur, and more… I would like to help you feel ready to play another important role in your young child’s life: dream guide.
Here are some tips about dreams to consider while you forget to sleep because you can’t stop blissfully staring at your new babies while they sleep… or because they don’t let you sleep!
The best way to be prepared to meet the needs of your dreaming children is to continue to develop your relationship with, and understanding of—your own dreams.
Think back to when you were a child. What was the first dream you remembered? Did you tell an adult? If yes, how did that person respond?
If your dreams were validated and supported, you can draw from that model with your own children. If they weren’t—you can now, as an adult, still explore and validate the dreams you had as a child. Here’s some good news: It’s never too late to develop a healthy relationship with your dreams!
Children have been known to share dreams as soon as they can talk. Usually though, they start to speak about dreams when they are around age 3 or 4, so you have plenty of time to learn more about dreams. I recommend you continue regular use of a dream journal, in paper or book form, or on DreamsCloud. Choose to increase your dream education by reading blogs on DreamsCloud, and finding other reliable sources to help you understand and connect with the world of dreams. Engaging in this process will help you develop a reverence for your own dream experiences. Then you will be able to better understand the importance of your children’s dreams when they start sharing them with you.
Start noticing and honoring your children’s dreams early.
When you watch your sleeping baby, you will notice their closed eyes often flutter rapidly—that means they are experiencing REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, and are probably dreaming! Unfortunately, we can’t know for sure what babies’ dreams are like because when they report dreams to us, it is usually in Gummish (baby language). Some parents claim to speak Gummish, but scientists remain skeptical. :) Most parents I know simply enjoy the feeling these ‘reports’ give them… especially when they are in a blissful baby bubble.
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 will share with you, remember to thank them for sharing the dream with you. Say positive, affirming statements such as, “Thank you for sharing your dream” and “That was a good dream!” Whether the dream was exciting, fun, or scary… reassure your child, “That was a good dream!” But first, you need to believe it!
Teach yourself, and your children, to honor Dreams.
Culturally we have been told some dreams are good and some dreams are bad. All dreams are actually good when we understand that they speak in other ‘dream languages’ that can be learned, and generally come in the service of healing and wholeness. In order to help your children build their own relationships to dreams, it will help them to learn that all of their feelings are being honored. That includes feelings that arise from nightmares, as well as happy dreams. There are many different kinds of dreams, and even if a dream is scary it is most often part of your child’s natural and healthy development.
Learn ways to approach your own nightmares that turn fear into empowerment.
Then you will be able to ‘hold space’ for your children when they have nightmares, and your confidence will help them relax. They will sense that they will be able to learn from you how to face their own nightmares with courage too. It feels great when you know you are setting a great example for your child!
Learn about ‘Dream Allies.’
If you feel scared of someone or something in a dream, it’s a good idea to call upon a friend or family member—someone you trust to be a ‘dream ally.’ This ally can help you face the ‘bad guys’ until you feel ready to face them on your own in dreams. This is good for you to try so you can teach your children about it too. 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
superheroes, or other favorite fictional characters. They could also be best friends, pets, siblings, parent figures, or (for adults) spouses.
Become a Dreamtime Warrior worthy of your child’s imitation. Give your children tools they need to become a Dreamtime Warrior like you.
Young children learn through imitation. That’s why teachers in pre-schools and kindergartens often hear children saying things they heard their parents say, and doing things they saw their parents do at home. Use your imagination to face opposition in dreams. Then when the time comes, you can offer yourself as an ally and say, “Imagine that I will help you in your dreams if the (bad guys/scary tiger/etc.) return.” You can explain, “You are brave” and “You are a Dreamtime Warrior for Peace.” You can encourage, “You are safe in your dreams, and do not need to feel afraid.” Even if your child is very upset, these words will eventually sink in if you believe them, and remain calm. Remind your child (and yourself), “You are the dreamer, and number one in the dream. Everyone in your dream should be helpful and friendly to you.” I will cover this more in my next blog in this series: Tips for Honoring Children’s Dreams.
Note: If any of the tips I suggest here sound unusual, that is to be expected because we haven’t had dream education in our schools. Dream education for parents and children is still on the cutting edge—isn’t that exciting? By simply reading this blog and considering its implications, you are helping improve the future and making the world a better place for your children.
More resources for new parents can be found at www.thedreambridge.com.