Carl Jung argued that a Child appearing in your dreams symbolizes the forgotten experiences and emotions from childhood.
Thus, your dream may tell you that you have forgotten how to play, or that you need to be more innocent and carefree.
As a symbol of the future, the child also symbolizes personal potential and the opening of doors that can lead to personality changes. Also, it could symbolize your need for security and assurance that all is well.
Many people have frequent dreams about small children; but dreaming about a child that is completely unknown is also common.
There is a chance that the child in your dream symbolizes your inner self, the child-like you that hasn’t gone away even as an adult.
Perhaps the dream is based on childhood memories, or it may bring to light long-buried issues. Another possibility is that the dream was simply a pleasant memory.
A child in a dream can represent a desire to learn, simplicity, intuition, new adventures, and many other healthy aspects typical of childhood. There are times when a child in your dreams may be a metaphor for your own childish tendencies.
Taking all this into account, interpreting dreams containing a child has to be done only after careful analysis of the elements and tone in the dream.
In all cases however, dreams of a child open a pathway to our inner child, because no matter what we’ve been through, there’s still a part of us that draws from the innocence and curiosity of our child-self.
The moment we are able to connect with that child-like aspect of ourselves, we allow ourselves to be whole beyond what we are used to, our Child and Adult sides working together toward a happier, more satisfying life.
The Child is thus a metaphor for all of the possibilities for change, development, and transformation within the mind.
However, these sources of creativity and wonder remain at a childish, naive and misguided stage of their development.
This is because children, unlike adults, are much more closely connected and influenced by humanity’s primitive instincts, urges and impulses.
Thus, dreaming of a child is also a sign that your conscious mind and rationality must shed light on these dark aspects of ourselves, to uncover their meaning and channel these urges in a healthy manner.
Ultimately, the Child is an enduring aspect of a person’s mind, a force that is there to the end of life whether acknowledged or not. Care must be taken however not to confuse “the Child” aspect of personality, with the actual childhood that we’ve grown out of.
The Child within the mind can only be contacted in its entirety, including both its positive and negative sides. Whenever there is conflict between the Adult and the Child, the golden rule (as always, with different parts of one’s own personality) is to recognize the needs and wants of both aspects of our minds.
A person shouldn’t let themselves be driven by their inner Child, but neither must he (or she) just chastise and correct the Child in an effort to make it grow up.
The meaning of dreams with children
- Watching healthy children at play: a sign of success and good times.
- Screaming, crying, and sickly or malnourished children are all signs that there is trouble ahead.
- Giving birth to a child: a new career or opportunity lies ahead.
- If the child is being baptized: you are returning to your religious faith.
- Seeing a sleeping child: your current life is free of worries, or you wish it were so.
- A child appearing in a woman’s dream often means she desires a child. However, a child in a dream can also indicate new plans, your job, or other changes are emotionally taxing.
- If the child appears frequently, think about making some changes in your life.
- Dreaming of yourself as a child: possible connection to a childhood experience. However, analyze all other details in the dream first.
- Dreaming of a single child that is happy and playing: it could symbolize your true self, which is still optimistic, full of life, confident and requires only love and self-care to achieve your true potential.
- Dreaming of a child with a divine aura. Represents your entire self, both conscious and subconscious, head and heart, emotion and reason, that are now in harmony with one another.
- The child in your dream may represent a new beginning, a new development in your psyche – a new attitude to life, a new set of values, a new balance of your psychic forces, a new reconciliation of previously conflicting forces.
- The child could represent our emotional self, the one that still needs reassurance, to be told that all is well and comforted. Equally however, the child within you needs to be disciplined and corrected if it is to grow up and mature.
- The dream child represents your wish to escape conflicts or difficult situations that are taking over your life. It could also mean you just want to start over again or avoid responsibilities.
- To dream of a child could mean that you’re feeling powerless and overly dependent on others.
Child archetypes in dreams and what they mean
Children in dreams can be divided into multiple “archetypes“, depending on what properties or powers they seem to have, or circumstances they are associated with.
Each of these child archetypes had a different dream interpretation, allowing you to better understand the meaning of your dream.
The archetype of the nature child suggests a draw to the natural world and forces of nature. The nature child archetype is often loving and selfless, but also has an innate resilience and will to live – these being the defining traits of Nature itself.
Dreams involving the nature child archetype often show an animal interacting, or even rescuing, the child.
The nature child archetype represents a part of ourselves that is compassionate and nature loving, and even a desire to get more in touch with nature.
The magical child archetype represents wisdom, strength and resilience when confronted with difficult life circumstances.
The magical child frequently represents the power of imagination and the belief that anything is possible. However, if the child’s magic isn’t used in a positive way, the dream might indicate lack of energy and activity while in the waking world.
Orphan children are the main characters in many well-known children’s stories, such as Bambi, Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel, The Little Mermaid, Little Orphan Annie, The Matchstick Girl, Snow White, and many more.
Orphan children frequently appear in the dreams of people who have felt from birth that they didn’t belong in their family or community, and are anxious about surviving alone in the world.
The divine child archetype embodies the transformational power that drives us on the path of personal growth that Jung called the individuation process.
In addition, the divine child represents our total sense of self, unlike the limited sense of self associated with our childhood ego or our underdeveloped and limited personality that we had as children.
The inner child archetype is the personality we lost as we became adults. In dreams, the inner child often represents the playful, creative side of the self that has learned walking, language, and other skills.
The wounded child archetype in dreams is a reminder of the abuse, neglect and other traumas the dreamer may have lived through during childhood.
From a spiritual perspective, the wounded child represents the dreamers desire to forgive their own mistakes (which they believe cause the trauma), but also to go on a path to overcome the past and enjoy the present and the future.
The dark side of the wounded child however manifests itself as a persistent sense of self-pity, a tendency to blame your parents for your current shortcomings and a refusal to forgive and move on.
Dreams about children who never grow old reflect a desire to remain forever young in body, mind, and spirit, but they can also reflect a failure to embrace adult responsibility.
This is the Peter Pan child archetype, for he refuses to become an adult and leave childhood, which is the phase of life where the responsibilities of adulthood do not exist.
A consistent inability to be reliable, and the inability to accept that aging is the natural course of life, are also signs of the Peter Pan archetype.
The Shadow Child archetype. The most obvious sign of this archetype are the outrageous demands it makes, which leads to extreme actions.
The desires, impulses and instincts the shadow child represents are genuine, but not adequate to be manifested in the adult world.
This Shadow Child, firmly lodged in the depths of the psyche, represents the arrested and inferior side of the personality, an ‘enfant terrible’ who has the power and knack of suddenly messing things up at the last minute.
A person who is disconnected from their Child selves, and sees life exclusively through the Adult personality lives is always terrified of the mischief the Child might cause when manifested.
Ironically, the more repressed the Child is, the wilder it becomes.
The solution is to relate to this Shadow Child and discover that its valuable qualities can amount to a symbolic rebirth, which may salvage a life from ruin.
Dreams where you’re an adopted child
Dreaming you’re orphaned or adopted implies you feel lost or rejected because of poor relationships with members of your family in waking life.
If you dream of losing your parents, or of being rejected by them, it is an indication that you believe they didn’t give you their full unconditional love and attention, and that you have to figure out how to navigate through the world without them.
Another possibility is that you feel that you are an outsider in your relationship with your family.
Maybe they’ve excluded you, or maybe you don’t have much in common with them. Does your family reject you or are you frequently in conflict?
Regardless of the reason, your dream might be telling you that you need a supportive family (such as your friends or partner), and they can help you feel loved, secure, and accepted.
Another explanation for such dreams is that you are preparing for independence and self-reliance by moving away from your parents.
In these types of dreams you become orphaned after losing your parents, either permanently or temporarily, either by death or by circumstances such as foreign travel.
Perhaps your dream is not about your family at all; instead, it may be about feeling abandoned, unloved, rejected, and misunderstood by your partner, friends, or colleagues.
This means the dream is linked to feelings of belonging or not belonging in waking life.
A dream in which you are looking after an orphan indicates that you are healing the unloved part of yourself.
Resources and references:
- A dictionary of symbols by Cirlot, Juan Eduardo
- A dictionary of symbols by Chevalier, Jean
- Dictionary of symbols by Chetwynd, Tom
- A dictionary of dream symbols : with an introduction to dream psychology by Ackroyd, Eric
- Illustrated dictionary of symbols in eastern and western art by Hall, James
- Dictionary of symbols and imagery by Vries, Ad de
- Symbolism : a comprehensive dictionary by Olderr, Steven
- Dictionary of mythology, folklore and symbols by Jobes, Gertrude
- The complete dictionary of symbols by Tresidder, Jack
- The dream dictionary from A to Z by Francis-Cheung, Theresa
- 1001 dreams by Altman, Jack
- The Watkins dictionary of dreams by Reading, Mario
- Dictionary of dreams : interpretation and understanding by Colin, Didier
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