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Dreamwork for Children

Updated: Apr 11

As I once was a child that had vivid nighttime adventures, I knew it was important to work with my own children on the dreams they received every night. I have offered a space for my family to share their dreams or nightmares with me each morning. I usually start by sharing my own dream as it helps me anchor in and remember it, which in turn allows them to feel safe sharing theirs with me. Some days we don't remember much, if anything, from the night before and that's ok. Acknowledging that the dreams were there but just out of sight, is still beneficial towards our practice and for dreams that are to come. It's really fun when all four of us remember something remarkable, or someone has a memory come back suddenly just by asking if they had a dream.

Research shows that dreams are an important way for us to process and organize all the data and information that we are bombarded with each day. I agree that this is one of the most important aspects of dreams, but I believe there is more value in recalling, pondering, and working with dreams that we aren't regularly tapping into. Dreams are a way for us to deepen our communication with the inner world of our subconscious. Children already have amazing imaginations that create dreamlike scenes while they are awake. Those imaginings help them understand their world, and I believe encouraging them to dream and bring them to life each morning is just as useful. Allowing our children a time for thinking critically of their personal images will show them a way to process and make sense of the world.

There is a different approach needed to working with children vs teenagers. The images they observe and how they interpret them are usually very distinct. I have a 7 and 14 year old, so working with them varies a bit.

My youngest's dreams are bright and whimsical. She often shares images of things or places we've recently experienced. The latest dream she shared with us was her being chased by large rabbits. She said she was petting giant bunny babies but when the adult rabbits woke up they ran after her. She seemed more amused by the thought of them being so big, but there was a slight hint that she was scared. I asked why she thought she had that dream. She knew right away it was due to the fact that she had been chasing rabbits that are trying to destroy our yard. I also reminded her that she sleeps with a pink bunny nightly. When I asked if she was afraid of the dream, it took her a while to admit she was. She was able to understand that maybe if she was afraid of being chased, that she may be feeling some of what the rabbits feel. I'm not sure if she will continue scaring them away, but it will be interesting to see what she chooses going forward.

I've noticed my eldest's dreams are more about processing emotions of social aspects with her friends and classmates. It seems like she is working on how the world interacts with her, which allows us to discuss how it made her feel and if she would react the same way to those situations in real life. It offers not only a time for us to be open with each other, but also leads to further discussions on how to handle difficult circumstances if they ever arise. I listen to what she feels safe sharing with me and I try my best not to give too much advice so she can contemplate the symbols using her own emotions and ideas.

I appreciate how vulnerable it is for my family to share these dreams with me and I know it is because I've created a safe place to share without judgement. Working with them on their dreams has encouraged me to understand the dynamics of family dreamwork so I may help other families. Dreamwork for children can build relationships, foster creativity, expand self-awareness, and allow them to view their world from a more manageable perspective. Start the conversation by gifting a dream journal to your kids. Open the door to their already wonderful dreamy imagination, and know I'm always here to support you and your family on your dreamwork discovery.

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