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10 Ways to Help Your Child With Nightmares

10 Ways to Help Your Child With Nightmares Nightmares were not an issue with when they were little. Speed would have the occasional night terror, but generally they were not children who were plagued with many fears.

Then, once Speed and Raru turned 3 and 5-years-old respectively, it seemed as if something switched and weekly nightmares would have them running into my bedroom. It was hard to see them so scared and I would be awake long after I helped them fall back asleep, wondering about the sudden increase in my children’s nighttime anxiety.

According to Psychologist and sleep expert Jill Spivack, who did an interview with Momlogic, “When children are around 2 -½ to 3 years old, their imaginations develop quite a bit and having fears becomes more common.” The Cleveland Clinic echoes this and goes on to say that, “It’s estimated that 10 to 50 percent of children at this age have nightmares significant enough to disturb their parents. The developmental stage of life often is reflected in the type of nightmare.”

So it’s no wonder my kids started to have interruptions in their sleep patterns. It seems like they’re not the only kids who have had to deal with the scary dreams.

However, don’t fret. Children tend to grow out of frequent nightmares as the grow in age and confidence with a 1998 study titled, “Dreamcatching: Every Parent’s Guide to Exploring and Understanding Children’s Dreams and Nightmares” which demonstrates that by the time kids turn 11 to 14-years old, nightmares become infrequent. In the meantime, there are some ways that we can help make the night time easier for our kids (and ourselves).

Click through to read 10 ways you can help your child with nightmares:


  • Cuddle and Reassure 1 of 10
    Cuddle and Reassure
    Speed and Raru seem to seek the cuddle out after a scary nightmare, totally understanding, right. The Cleveland Clinic recommends to stay with your child for a short bit after the nightmare or leaving the door open once they've calmed down.
    Photo credit: photostock
  • Take it Seriously 2 of 10
    Take it Seriously
    Kids have wild imaginations and sometimes even their nightmares seem 'silly' or that they are overreacting. It's always important for your child to be able to talk to you, even if it's a nightmare.
    Photo credit: photostock
  • Get Specifics 3 of 10
    Get Specifics
    Talk to your child about what they were dreaming about, but don't press it as Baby Center recommends.
    Photo credit: photostock
  • Adapt Their Room 4 of 10
    Adapt Their Room
    If there is something scary in your child's room in particular that they are frightened of (like the closet), consider adapting the room. You can leave the closet door open or closed or have a small, dim night light on in their room.
    Photo credit: photostock
  • Have a Consistent Bed Routine 5 of 10
    Have a Consistent Bed Routine
    If your kids are like mine, they will do better when they know what to expect. Keeping your child's bedtime routine the same from night to night can help reduce any anxiety they have and ease them into an easier sleep. The Cleveland Clinic also recommends ensuring your child gets enough sleep as well.
    Photo credit: photostock
  • Speak to the Doctor 6 of 10
    Speak to the Doctor
    While nightmares are not usually something to be concerned about, a study from 1998 called "Dreamcatching: Every Parent's Guide to Exploring and Understanding Children's Dreams and Nightmares" suggests seeking help from the child's doctor if your child is experiencing persistent, violent dreams that are not responding to any resolutions. Especially if there are stresses in your child's life it may be helpful to speak to a doctor.
    Photo credit: photostock
  • Don’t Reinforce Fears 7 of 10
    Don't Reinforce Fears
    It's important to let your child know that they are safe in your home. Don't make the mistake of scaring the monster out of the room or to give your child water to spray as "monster spray" to scare away the monsters. It's better to assure them that their fears, while valid, are not real threats in the home.
    Photo credit: photostock
  • Normalize 8 of 10
    Normalize
    My kids like to know that they are not being silly or "cowardly" when they are afraid of something. I help normalize their fears by telling them some of my own and how I work through them. It helps them to know that I also worry from time to time and it's not silly.
    Photo credit: photostock
  • Limit TV & Scary Stories 9 of 10
    Limit TV & Scary Stories
    If you've noticed that your child responds to scary movies by having nightmares, try and limit what they watch or read before bed. Making sure they are in a happy, calm state before bed may help keep the fears and nightmares away.
    Photo credit: photostock
  • Explore Solutions 10 of 10
    Explore Solutions
    You want your child to be happy, comfortable and calm for sleep. Explore solutions to their fears such as a dreamcatcher or a special bear they can hug if they're feeling fearful. Things like leaving a night light in their room, the door slightly open or quiet, calming music may also help.
    Photo credit: photostock

Photo credit: Andrew Stawarz /Flickr

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