Do your kids have scary dreams? It can be hard to think up a solution when a screaming, anxious child wakes you up in the middle night, so it helps to have a few strategies ready to both prevent nightmares and to deal with them as they happen.
Monitor what your child is reading and watching
A few nights ago my 8-year-old said he wasn’t going to read the book series he was into anymore. As much as he loved the stories, they were scary and he wasn’t sleeping well. Not every child will be as quick to recognise the link between books and nightmares, and not everyone would be willing to give up their favourite pastimes for a good night’s sleep. It’s up to us, parents, to monitor books, TV shows, games and movies, and filter out scary images, stories and ideas as much as possible.
Stick to a bedtime routine
An overtired child is less likely to have a restful sleep. A predictable bedtime routine ensures that your child goes to bed on time, falls asleep quickly and easily, and gets adequate rest.
Take your child’s fears seriously
Sometimes we think that if we treat our child’s fear as unimportant, they will lighten up about it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work this way. If we ignore the fear, the child will feel that she has to deal with it on her own, and she’ll be even more scared and lonely. Instead, take some time to listen to your child describe her nightmare and stay with her until she has calmed down.
Talk about dreams and nightmares
Explain to your child that dreams are a normal occurrence in everyone’s life and sometimes they’re scary. If you’re struggling to explain dreams (how many of us really understand them?), there are great kids’ books that you and your child can read together.
It’s very common for children to experience nightmares. According to the Better Health Channel, about a quarter of all children have at least one nightmare every week. Yet, if you’re worried that something is not right, there’s absolutely no need to suffer alone. Talk to your doctor and ask what professional help you can get for your situation.
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