GUIDELINES TO CONTROL DAYDREAMING PATTERNS

Fantasy is used by everyone to some extent to satisfy certain needs
which cannot be met within the immediate physical environment of the
individual. Fantasy can be used as a means of achieving a short physical
and mental rest while resolving a tiring problem; as a way of momentarily
escaping from physical or mental pressures imposed by others; as an avenue
of escape from an intolerable situation which may result from the physical
environment, hunger, lack of sleep, or even boredom; or as a projection into
a happy situation. Such daydreaming is normal and is often beneficial.
However, it can create a problem when carried to extremes.

Suggestions:

1. Foster the child's normal tendency toward daydreaming and fantasy
through classroom activities and written assignments and let him/her
know that there is an appropriate time and place for everything, even
fantasy.
2. Try to determine the specific reasons for the excessive daydreaming such
as boredom, over-involvement or concern in another area of interest,
conscious or unconscious techniques used to get attention, or escape
from the situation to satisfy specific unattainable needs. Also,
determine whether fear is involved and help the child deal with these
fears or needs through activity as well as verbalization.
3. The teacher should keep in mind that punishment may increase the depth
and extend of fantasy, especially if the child is using fantasy to
escape the pressures and stress of the classroom situation. It is best
to structure the physical environment so as to help the child maintain
proper attention through seating (away from distracting influences), eye
contact, encouraging class participation, having the child work with
another student on assignments.
4. Try to determine if the excessive daydreaming occurs at a specific time
or place and whether it appears continuously when the child is under the
same type of pressure. Then try to structure those activities to
encourage active involvement rather than escape. It is important that
the teacher provide much verbal praise and encouragement not only to
help keep the child on task, but to reinforce his efforts at sustained
attention.
5. Be alert to passive daydreaming patterns such as staring at his book or
homework while emotionally he is miles away in fantasy land, gazing at
the teacher with a relatively blank look, staring at items around the
room such as the hands of the clock, looking out the window, etc. These
activities should be interrupted in a warm and concerned manner, calling
the child's attention back to the task at hand.
6. Allow the child occasional respite from the usual classroom routine such
as taking notes to the office, erasing the blackboards, cleaning eraser
and running other errands for the teacher. This will allow him a
socially acceptable means of escape while keeping him actively involved
within the environment.
7. It is axiomatic that every individual continuously attempts to stabilize
himself within his environment; therefore, as soon as possible it is
important to help the child in his personal efforts to adjust to the
realistic world around him. If the child is willing to verbalize his
fears and concerns it may be helpful to assist him in reaching realistic
solutions to his problems. It is important to watch a child day by day
and to work optimistically and in a positive manner. He will either
begin to show signs of returning to normal active involvement or reach a
point where professional help would be the most feasible solution. In
such cases, a referral to an appropriate mental health agency is
advisable to help the child deal with his needs to escape.