Children's dreams have often been described as bizarre and fantastical in nature. Early theories of children's emotional development (e.g., psychoanalytic theory, which maintained that dreams are wish fulfillments) contributed to this view. But how dreams are studied may also play a role. Dreams reported after they occur may have been recalled because they were bizarre. David Foulkes showed in laboratory studies that if children were awakened during REM sleep and asked to describe their dreams, a different picture emerged. Although some dreams contained bizarre elements, children generally dreamed about familiar people, settings, and actions. In addition, dreams changed with age. It was not until about age eight or nine that dream reports began to include narratives that featured activity by dream characters with the self as a participant. Foulkes concluded that dreaming in children is linked to general intellectual development with dream construction dependent on abstract, representational thought.
In general, empirical research on children's dreams has been sparse. While knowledge of many aspects of sleeping in childhood has grown since the 1950s, relatively little is known about the intriguing topic of children's dreams.
See also: APNEA; MILESTONES OF DEVELOPMENT Bibliography
Anders, Thomas F., and Lisa A. Eiben. "Pediatric Sleep Disorders: A Review of the Past Ten Years.'' Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 36, no. 1 (1997):9-20. Carskadon, Mary A. "Patterns of Sleep and Sleepiness in Adolescents." Pediatrician 17 (1990):5-12. Carskadon, Mary A., ed. Encyclopedia of Sleep and Dreaming. New
York: Macmillan, 1993. Foulkes, David. Children's Dreams: Longitudinal Studies. New York: Wiley, 1982.
Kahn, André, Bernard Dan, José Groswasser, Patricia Franco, and Martine Sottiaux. "Normal Sleep Architecture in Infants and Children." Journal of Clinical Neurophysiology 13, no. 3 (1996):184-197.
Mindell, Jodi A., Judith A. Owens, and Mary A. Carskadon. "Developmental Features of Sleep.'' Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America 8 (1999):695-725. Sadeh, Avi, Amiram Raviv, and Reut Gruber. ''Sleep Patterns and Sleep Disruptions in School-Age Children." Developmental Psychology 36 (2000):291-301. Wolfson, Amy R., and Mary A. Carskadon. ''Sleep Schedules and Daytime Functioning in Adolescents.'' Child Development 69 (1998):875-887.
Mabel L. Sgan Beverly J. Roder
Was this article helpful?