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Robin Landa

Robin is a mom of a teenage daughter, an author, designer, and distinguished professor, at the Robert Busch School of Design of Kean University.

How did you come up with the idea for your book?  When my daughter, Hayley, was about three years old, she had a few nightmares. I remembered she had a toy fishing-tackle box with a lid. I presented this toy to Hayley as “the Dream Box,” explaining: “Speak your nightmare into the box. Hurry and close the lid. Say, ‘Stay in there, bad dreams!’”

I continued, “Your nightmare will stay in the Dream Box. You won’t have bad dreams again.”

Hayley replied, “How does it work?”

“I can’t tell you,” I said. “It’s magic.”

After using the Dream Box several times, Hayley was no longer plagued by nightmares, and we all got some sleep. I shared my technique with friends who used it successfully. When I mentioned the concept to an esteemed psychologist, she validated my premise. Since then, other psychologists also have endorsed the Dream Box concept and have pointed out that it can work for older children and adults, as well. That’s when I realized I should write The Dream Box book to help others.

When Modern Dog Design Co. enthusiastically agreed to illustrate The Dream Box, I knew readers would be visually delighted by this problem-solving story disguised as a picture book.

What’s your favorite parenting tip? Play with your child. Be zany. Engage your child with invented stories. Make up games. The games can be very simple, for example, alternating among movements such as jumping, twirling, and hopping, as long as your child is engaged and having fun with you. Or it can be a game based on a reliable toy, such as adding wordplay to building with wooden blocks. Play builds creativity. As a creativity expert, I value playful exploration—with words, movement, image-making/art, building, or seeking. Almost any activity shared with your child can be fun if you’re imaginative or silly enough.

How do you get your family to eat healthy food and/or exercise? My husband, who is an internist and endocrinologist, and I are firm believers in exercise and sustaining a healthy diet. We have always presented the scientific data to our daughter as a way of supporting our point of view.

When it comes to exercise, finding an enjoyable activity is the key to being motivated to follow through with a regular exercise program. My daughter, husband, and I have all found different physical activities that we enjoy and therefore maintain.

I attend jazz dance and dance-based exercise classes as many times a week as I can manage, with a minimum of five hours per week as a goal. I look forward to exercising because it’s dance-based, so it’s a joy rather than a chore.

How do you recharge your batteries? Dancing makes me happy. And a happy mom is a patient mom.


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