It’s annoying to catch a child’s attention drifting when you’re trying to assign chores or teach a class. Yet after being “successfully” taught that daydreaming is a waste of time, many people go through life chronically tired and unproductive.
The truth is, daydreaming is as important to human effectiveness as night dreaming. “Far from being a worthless distraction, daydreaming seems to be an essential human activity” (Josie Glausiusz, Psychology Today, March/April 2009), playing a major role in creativity and problem-solving.
If your kids’ minds constantly seem to wander from what you’re saying, look at yourself first. Are you using twenty words to say what could be covered in five? “Explaining” things the kids already know? Talking over their comprehension level? Saying the same thing the same way long after you should have tried a different approach? Could you listen to you without daydreaming?
Once you’ve gotten past that (and have allowed the kids to personally explain what they understand and how they best learn), drop the habit of reprimanding “daydreaming” when it’s not bothering anybody. Yes, even if someone is apparently staring into space when they’re supposed to be doing their homework: they may be very busy working out a better approach.
Other ways to help kids get the most from daydreaming:
Of course, every good thing has its dark side. There may be an unhealthy-daydreaming problem if:
Unhealthy daydreaming may be a sign of mental illness or unrecognized learning differences, so consider getting professional advice. (Just avoid counselors who regard daydreaming itself as a problem to be “cured.”) You can also encourage attention to the “real world” by: