Daydreaming can be productive way to better face the future

Daydreaming can be productive and helpful as we chug our way through life’s journey. | Getty Images

Q: We are convinced that our 12-year-old is the world’s greatest daydreamer.

We have received notes regularly from his teachers over the years, saying that if our son paid more attention to the task at hand and spent less time in some kind of an imaginary world, he would be floating near the top of the class.

That was problem enough for him when the schools were fully working but with the pandemic pushing kids to study more at home, it is more problematic.

We cannot encourage our son to dump the daydream for a full day, or even a part of the day when he is at home.

We have to do our other chores. The result is that there are times when our boy is not getting his work done. He is daydreaming.

He is a great kid, otherwise pretty normal. We are not sure what to do about this. Do you have any suggestions for us?

A: I think before we get too carried away with condemnations for your son’s flip into fantasyland, we need to better appreciate daydreaming for the merits it has to offer. In fact most of us daydream, some more than others and some for more of the day than others.

At times, daydreaming can be a bit of a problem. You do not want your husband daydreaming when he is driving around a field in a multimillion-dollar combine and not paying attention to where he is directing his machine. That could be problematic.

But that is the negative side of the equation. Let’s look at the other side. In fact daydreaming can be productive and helpful as we chug our way through life’s journey.

For openers, daydreaming tells us that the doors of possibility can open for us. Your daydream reminds you that you might see your way through what otherwise seems to be an impossible challenge. It can leave you with a little bit of energy to ply your trade more diligently than before. Is it possible that your great grandfather was daydreaming when he had his oxen breaking his homestead with him? Was Grandma daydreaming when she was saving her egg money to send at least one of her kids off to university?

The trick with daydreaming is the extent to which a person can flit in and out of the daydreams without duress.

Coming out of the daydream might be simple.

That little ting on your cellphone that tells you that you have an incoming message can interrupt the daydream almost as much as the resonance of the Peace Bell can, as can the scent of a strange odour in the cab, a flash of lights from those who do not bother to dim for oncoming traffic, and various other nuances too many of which to report here.

The distractions are numerous. You just have to pay attention to them.

If your son is daydreaming too frequently, the trick is not to discourage him from doing so. That won’t work. The trick is to help your boy become more sensitive to his environmental cues, to bells ringing on his iPad, to the fridge door opening, to his sister changing channels on the television set and to whatever else is going on within your house. The more he is in tune with all of those distractions, the greater will be the ease with which he moves in and out of his daydreams.

And don’t forget the bonuses of daydreams.

  • Daydreaming can motivate your son when he is otherwise stuck and cannot see his way out of personal or academic problems.
  • Daydreaming can give your son the courage to challenge some of those interpersonal problems he has with his friends.
  • Daydreaming can help him develop and stay focused on those goals pushing him to long-term career paths.
  • Daydreaming can help your boy break through the walls of conformity into the world of creativity.
  • And, finally, daydreaming can help your son survive a classroom where the teacher’s presentations are not terribly interesting.

Jacklin Andrews is a family counsellor from Saskatchewan. Contact: jandrews@producer.com.

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