Albert Einstein, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Nikola Tesla were famous ones. Daydreamers. It’s one thing to have one’s head in the clouds all day and night, but healthy to build some neurons and synaptic connections by dreaming of flying on a fluffy purple marshmallow, returning to earth and then…eating your landing gear. — BadWitch
Readers Are Spellbound & Perplexed…
Dear GWBW — My daughter’s a daydreamer, even in school. I worry this is going to set her back. How do I bring her into the real world? — Down-to-Earth Dad
Dear Down-to-Earth Dad,
You don’t say how old your girl is, but I will assume early grade school by your context. Daydreaming “too much” is subjective, so as long as you and a professional rule out behavior problems and diseases like ADD, I’m a fan of healthy daydreaming. I say, don’t be too anxious to “help” her grow up, pops.
Kids need to play and daydream to learn. I’m a pretty seriously grounded and creative person, and/but was a true blurry-eyed, dreamy day dreamer (to the point of falling asleep in Phonics on the “bl” constant blend and waking up all mixed up on “sh” in the first grade) as a kid. I think you’d be surprised how many Real World dreams I was visualizing and plotting for my own future! Even I knew I was day dreamy (and no, I was not chided for it). Which brings up an excellent point. You might want to gently ask your daughter what she’s thinking about the next few times she takes a day trip in front of you. Keep the judgment out of your voice, best as you can keep it neutral. Ask her with genuine interest (you’ll be privileged with a small glimpse into her lovely head — no offense, but something tells me you could use a shot of whimsy, grounded to earth dad). Not only that, you’ll be showing interest in her thoughts inside her pretty little head, as well as helping her notice when she’s daydreaming.
Again assuming “normal” developmental behavior, I would reinforce that there are better times and scenarios to daydream (many times, dad!), versus not so much (crossing the street, when in a new, unfamiliar environment). There’s a right time and place for everything, down-to-earth poppy – and childhood is an especially magical time for the eternal past time of daydreaming.
Paying bills before you know it,
Dear Down-to-Earth Dad,
Sounds like your daughter has an active imagination, which is keeping her attention. That’s not all bad. Daydreaming is thought to be a sign of creativity. Her daydream believer spirit may be one of her greatest assets in the real world.
In our get-things-accomplished-multitasking world, we forget that a child’s primary job is to play and learn. Daydreaming allows her to re-work life experiences in a safe and creative way. Relationships and the real world can be overwhelming and confusing for children. Daydreaming actually helps with healthy social interactions by allowing children to rework scenarios and even role-play new personas. According to Jonah Lehrer, author of Proust Was A Neuroscientist, “Mostly, what we daydream about is each other, as the mind retrieves memories, contemplates “what if” scenarios, and thinks about how it should behave in the future.”
I understand that you have reservations about your daughter walking around with her head in the clouds, which is not always appropriate, or safe. I suggest reminding her to “be in her body.” I often tell my daydream daughter to “put her head in her feet,” when we are out walking. It is a reminder to focus on her feet and her body as she moves through the world. Focus is a popular word in our household. That being said, if we’re not actually in the process of trying to get something done, I let her keep her head in the clouds. It is her opportunity to figure out how the world works—in a safe, protected way.
If your daughter is older (I’m assuming under 8 yrs.), I would make a practice of setting goals with her for what she needs to accomplish. Set some boundaries for her in the real world. That way she can learn to meet her responsibilities and play after work is done. For instance, my 7 yr. old knows the boundaries of our morning routine. She must meet her responsibilities: get breakfast, get dressed, brushed, washed and shoes on ready for school. Once she gets her “work” done, she is free to play or daydream until it is time to go. Now, my daydreamer is often the first one ready in the morning.
Boundaries are a real world boon in a daydream world. Just be sure they aren’t too restrictive, because that time to daydream will only help her to become more creative and better socially adjusted.
Image, SugarPanda @ flickr
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