Dreamwork for Children: How to Uncover the Message in a Child’s Dream to Help Them Be Their Best Selves

Recently a 12-year-old, my daughter, told me she dreamed she was standing on a cliff and it started to break apart. The earth beneath her began to crumble and she fell. A huge St. Bernard-type dog grabbed hold of her and pulled her up.

This is a wonderful dream for a child to have. It shows they are capable of great-big friendliness and friendship because that is the quality which comes natural to dogs and in the dream it was positive for her. But on the flip-side, dogs can also be vicious and harmful. The challenge for this dreamer is that when she feels like she’s losing ground, being friendly will help her feel more stable and solid.

In real life, after this dream, the child talked about wanting to own a dog for three days. She wanted to be close to dogs and make her dream a reality immediately. She wanted to make the message literal. She had the idea that “being close to a real dog will make me feel better right now.” At the same time, her birthday was coming up and there were four friends who agreed to come to her birthday party. With friendliness, this child could have planned a warm and happy environment for her and her friends and they could have had a wonderful time and had a lot of happy memories.

Instead, the child neglected her real friends and day-dreamed about a fantasy dog for five days.

When it came time to have the party, she was confused and disorientated. She hadn’t helped with setting the environment & decorating. She didn’t plan any food. She didn’t follow through with instructions. She lied about the plans to others. She made up answers instead of checking with her parent. She confused four friends and their families.

The party was nearly cancelled because of the chaos. Instead of being cancelled altogether plans were just drastically altered. It was like there was 1/2 a party. There was no cake until all the kids went home and even still she refused to eat any of it. Opening presents occurred sporadically throughout the day. The kids just watched TV for a couple hours and played outside by the water, which is not so bad in itself but not what people think of when they expect to attend a b-day party. She didn’t give thank you gifts nor did she help with the clean up at all. She embarrassed herself and her family. It was what some would call a disaster.

It was the best example of seeing the difference between applying the message of a dream metaphorically and literally that I had ever seen.

You see, the problem the girl had is that she loved what the dog did in her dream and then she wanted to make that literal, immediately.

Instead of looking up party games, she looked online for dogs. When we went shopping for her party decorations, she picked out a chew toy for a dog. When I asked her to prepare for the party, instead she researched and wrote out a schedule for walking and house-training a dog. Instead of listening to me about party plans, she tuned me out and would only speak about dogs. When others asked her about the party, she ignored them and talked about dogs to everyone one she encountered.

She was so absorbed in the idea of her dream happening literally that she didn’t realize that her impending birthday party was giving her a perfect opportunity to practice great-big friendliness.

If she could have taken the message of the dream metaphorically, she could realize that the symbol of the dog was to tell her that the quality a dog has – friendliness – is the quality she can also have and when she practices it she will feel stable and solid. When she doesn’t, she will feel like her world is crumbling around her.

So since she got caught up in the literal application without first mastering the metaphor then she missed the opportunity to practice real friendliness. Since a lot of people were counting on her to be friendly and warm because they were looking forward to spending time with her on her birthday, she ended up hurting a lot of people’s feelings. Everyone deals with hurt feelings in different ways and we saw all that happen around us.

It’s one week after the dream and we are still cleaning up the mess of hurt feelings everywhere we go.

The funny thing is last week when she was focused on getting a dog I said to her, this is not the time to plan for a dog, but after your party we can talk more about it and plan for it. I told her to wait until Monday and Tuesday. By the time Monday and Tuesday came, all the pain from the failed birthday party and the disorder among her friends has left her feeling quite shattered and disorientated and when I ask her about a dog she is just angry and cruel in her tone and words.

She had the opportunity to practice friendliness with her real friends and then go about getting a real life dog which has been her wish for years. But instead she was not patient and so not only did she not have a great party with her friends but she also is not working towards getting a real dog, even though I am ready to consider this.

Even now, the solution to her issue is friendliness, but at the moment no one wants to get to close to her because she has pushed us all away for the past week.

It will be the friendliness of others coming together around her which will reach out to her heart and help her to understand. When we do this for her now, then she will begin to understand the power of real friendliness. In time, it will be her who really gets it and is able to be the champion for others when they feel like their worlds are crumbling.

It takes Patience and Wisdom to apply the metaphor first and the literal meaning afterwards, but it is so worth it!

 

 

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