by Dr. Shanthi Thomas
Daydreaming in children is often considered harmless. Some scientists consider it even beneficial, since dreaming is one of the ways in which association of ideas takes place, which leads to better creativity. However, what do you do when your son or daughter daydreams to the point of not being attentive in class? Indeed, daydreaming can be the symptom of certain psychological or neurological disorders such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Daydreaming becomes problematic when it affects a child’s academic performance as well as social life. If daydreaming is a problem for your child, consider the tips given below.
If your child’s teacher frequently complains about his daydreaming, you need to consider the possibility that he may be bored at school, or what is given in school is not stimulating enough. One of the reasons for such boredom could be that the child is exceptionally brilliant, and school is not challenging enough. The other possibility is that school is too challenging, so the child has decided not to engage with the lessons, and let his mind wander. A gifted or brilliant child may need to be in a more challenging environment, whereas the child who cannot cope with the challenges will need additional help to make sense of the lessons.
The child has to be made aware of the fact that he is daydreaming when he is not supposed to. He has to be told the downsides of day dreaming, and what he may be missing out in classes because of this habit. Once the child is aware of his daydreaming, he has to be taught to catch himself day dreaming and refocus his attention.
This technique makes use of a device that vibrates every now and then, or at fixed intervals. Whenever the device vibrates or makes a noise, the user has to note down what exactly he is doing at the moment. If he is day dreaming, he notes it down. The advantage of this is that one becomes aware of what he is doing, at all times. If the frequency of day daydreaming is very high, it is an indication that the problem is getting out of hand. It is a signal to the user that he needs to get immediate help.
‘Mindful breathing’ is an activity in which the person engages in focusing on breathing for eight minutes at a time, several times a day. Within these eight minutes, if the mind wanders, you have to bring it back to the present forcefully. Several times of practicing this can help a person to live in the present.
If a child experiences insecurity feelings or anxiety, he may resort to daydreaming as an escape mechanism. It is essential that parents and teachers discuss with the child what thoughts go through his mind, and whether there is any underlying anxiety or insecurity issues. In such cases, a visit to the school counselor may be in order. Another change pertaining to school situations is to ask the child’s teacher to change his seat to the front.
Eating nutritious food can enable a child to have better control over their attention and focus more on the task at hand. Also, eat food at regular times. A hungry child is hardly in a position to pay attention in class.
The greatest and most refreshing way of getting rest for human beings is through sleep. Unfortunately sleep deprivation is extremely common in the modern world for young and old alike. A sleep deprived mind is hardly in a position to pay attention to anything, least of all if the subject matter is not so entertaining, which is how most school lessons are. It is important to diligently follow the recommendations on ideal duration of sleep for different ages.
Most children who daydream would like to be given some quiet time when they are on their own, free to do what they want to do. During this time, the child should be free to engage in his favorite pastimes, be it day dreaming or any other activity.
Many daydreamers are very creative. It is a good idea to ask your child to draw or write down what thoughts and ideas go through their mind during the day. Often, such expressions of their creativity fulfil their need for daydreaming.
Activities like karate, swimming, and other physical activities help a child to discover another area of his personality, to which he may be increasingly drawn. Usually the more physical activities a child engages in, the less time he will spend on day dreaming.