One of my best friends is a fantastic dream interpreter. Through her analysis, she has taught me to look for some deeper meaning into some of our subconscious dream induced thoughts. I do think it is helpful to reflect upon those dreams that stick with you. Sometimes I don’t even know I am anxious about something until I have a string of anxiety dreams. Reflecting on those in my waking hours can help me to identify and deal with those sources of anxiety.
I always ask my kids when they wake up, “did you have sweet dreams?” It is really just a informal welcome back to the world of being awake and much less of an inquiry. Recently, M has been telling me about the dreams that he remembers upon waking. Recently he told me he had a dream that he and “Bubbie” went on a date. Bubbie is his beloved blanket, the two of them are practically inseparable. He is the object that we did a 45 minute detour to pick up on a recent trip out of town because I don’t know what M would do without Bubbie to snuggle with at night. I don’t think he really understands what a date is but I think a “Bubbie date” is pretty darn cute and it represents the magic and innocence of childhood in a way that I absolutely don’t want to forget.
Over the weekend, when I asked him about his dreams, he said, ‘I had a dream that I was in my room fighting an evil witch, and you came in my room and told me to “calm my body.”‘ Oy. That one threw me for a loop. The way in which he recounted the dream communicated how unhelpful it was for me to come in while he was defeating forces of evil and tell him to calm his body. Evil witches have been a fear thing for both kiddos since this past Halloween. The Disney witches have only added to this image M has of witches being a sly enemy. It is not surprising that he had a bad dream about a witch. It was however, very insightful for me to know how unhelpful it is to him when I tell him to calm his body. Even his subconscious knows that telling someone to be calm, when they are already trying to fight off the bad feelings of dysregulation, is USELESS. When M starts to get dysregulated, it is like a reflex for me to tell him “YOU need to calm your body.”
Thankfully, this dream stuck with him and now it has stuck with me. Next time I start telling him to “calm his body,” I am going to stop myself and instead of talking, I will fight the witch with him. We know lots of calming techniques and none of those involve telling him to calm down.
Here’s a great source of calming techniques aimed at the preschool age crowd if you are searching: http://connectability.ca/2010/09/23/calming-strategies-to-use-with-children/