The Psychology Today blog recent touched on something that many parents encounter and react to with anger or frustration – their child daydreaming instead of doing what they are supposed to.
The post speaks of a mother who wants to get her child dressed each morning and always finds her son lost in his thoughts lying on the floor when he should be getting on with the task of getting dressed.
Why day dreaming is not bad
A parent may have a perfectly understandablereaction to the child who seems to be waffling rather than getting on with (in this case) dressing, or doing homework or other chores.
It could also be that the parent wants toprevent their child being picked on in school because of the daydreaming.
A parent may also wonder whether it isn’t some underlying problem or disorder that causes the child to daydream.
However daydreaming has many useful purposes. In earlier less enlightened times, daydreaming was seen as a mere waste of time and educational psychologists in the 1950’s warned parents to prevent children being sucked into neurosis and even psychosis.
However, we now understand the importance of day dreaming for creative purposes – not only do artists such as filmmakers, composers and painters benefit from daydreaming, so do scientists and mathematicians. Daydreaming can be at the root of new ideas, inventions, discoveries and so on.
In fact daydreaming has practical, everyday applications as well. It helps alleviate the boredom of everyday jobs and routine tasks. One study showed that children, who tended to daydream more, had greater empathy.
Daydreaming and nighttime dreaming also helps one consolidate learning, sort through problems and achieve success. In fact research has also shown that the brains problem-solving regions tend to become activated during episodes of daydreaming.
What to do about your daydreaming child
It is all very well for a parent to know at an intellectual level that daydreaming is good. It is quite another to encounter the daydreamer day after day, who seems to be whiling away time in a seemingly non-constructive manner.
One solution that some experts recommend is promote early competency among children. Prepare the child and help them cope with new challenges such as starting school to prevent them escaping into their own little daydreaming world. Also lead by example to show kids how to get routine stuff done and the satisfaction that this brings.