Friday, November 23, 2012

How children's dream evolve

       The nature of a child’s dream life generally mirrors his overall pattern of mental and emotional development throughout the early years. True dreaming seems to begin between the ages of 18 and 24 months, after the child develops the ability to form mental images. If you could enter the world of your toddler’s dreams, you would find it a rather one dimensional place, visited here and there by static images of the things the child has seen during the day. You might see animals – most likely farm animals or small species such as monkeys, squirrels and birds. Researchers studying the dream experiences of youngsters three years of age and older speculate that young children portray themselves as such animals in their dreams because they cannot yet envision their self portraits in human form – and, perhaps, because they identify with the impulsive behavior of small creatures they see out-of-doors. At this stage, too, children’s dreams frequently appear to be influenced by physical states such as thirst, hunger or fatigue, which may combine with animal imagery to produce dreams of small creatures drinking, eating or sleeping.

      Early dreams involve very little dramatic or social interaction, and the settings are vague and nondescript. But as children reach the age of five or six, their dreams become more sophisticated, in parallel with their mental development. Story lines grow more complex and are less influenced by the child’s bodily states. Now when a child dreams about food, the eating takes place in a social context. Animals still appear frequently – sometimes dressing and behaving as people – but family members are portrayed as well, and there is increased interaction between the characters in a child’s dreams. The faces of strangers, sometimes frightening ones, may also appear in the dreams of a five-year-old. Researchers believe that these may simply be failed attempts at constructing more familiar characters. Recreation and play are dominant themes, and settings are more specific: Buildings and landscapes that are a part of the child’s waking life now appear in dreams.