Helping Kids Through Nightmares HD
How to Stop Nightmares in Children
Are your children having trouble sleeping? Having nightmares can be scary and even traumatic for children. Especially when they are younger, they might be unable to explain the content of their dreams. Seek to listen to your child’s concerns and help them learn coping skills.
Creating a Good Bedtime Routine
Give your child a bath.Having your child take a bath before sleeping will help their body to unwind. The warm water also makes your child’s temperature rise artificially. The contrast between their bathtime temperature and the temperature of the room can help induce sleep.
Create a cozy sleeping atmosphere.Make sure your child has enough blankets and pillows to feel warm, protected, and comfortable.Close the windows and curtains if possible. While having their favorite stuffed animal nearby is great, avoid crowding their bed with too many toys. They could feel a less familiar one in the night and become scared.
Help your child connect with a security object.Whether a blanket or a stuffed animal, having an object that makes your child feel safe is important. If they can cling to their object when they wake, thay can calm themself. Aim for something soft and preferably washable.
- Some parents purchase two or three of the same items so that one is always available.
Read happy stories.Before your child goes to sleep, read a few children’s books. This will help them become calm. Avoid any graphic or scary stories that might upset them. Also, avoid scary TV programming. Focus on creating a mood of happiness prior to sleep.
Say prayers or wishes.If you are religious, have your child say their prayers before sleeping. They can express any concerns they might have and ask for good dreams. This is also a good time to find out what is troubling your child. If you are not religious, consider having your child make wishes. For example, they could wish for sweet dreams or a fun day in art class tomorrow.
Put on a night light.If your child fears the dark, having a soft nightlight can help. When they awaken, they will see their room more clearly. Alternatively, you can leave their door open to allow light to infiltrate their room.
- Having glow in the dark stars or stuffed animals also could work.
Banish bad dreams with a fun activity.You can help to make your child feel more secure by doing something together that will help to prevent bad dreams. Have your child help you develop this activity and add the activity to your child's nighttime routine.
- For example, you could create a special "anti-monster" spray and spritz it around the room right before your child goes to bed. Have your child help you make the spray using some distilled water and a few drops of a relaxing essential oil, such as lavender.
- Another option is to go to the bedroom window and bring down an imaginary shade or bars to keep out bad dreams. Let your child know you are doing this by saying something like, "I am going to lower the anti-nightmare shield now, so you will be safe from them while you sleep!" Then, pantomime lowering a shade over the window.
Responding to a Nightmare
Listen to your child.Do not brush off their fears. Instead, ask them what they dreamed about. Knowing the content of their dreams will help you address their fears. If they cannot speak well yet, try to understand as much as possible.
- You could also try asking your child what they would like to have done to resolve the dream or to be the hero in the dream. This may help them to feel empowered and less fearful.
Help your child fall back to sleep.Walk or carry them back to her room. It is best if they can fall back to sleep in their own bed. Give your child their security object. Although you can stay with them for a little while, it is best for them to fall asleep without your presence. They need to learn to cope.
- Although you might wait for them to fall asleep a few times, do not do this regularly or even on two consecutive nights. Then they will learn to repeat her behavior.
- Generally, encourage your child to stay in bed. It is better for you to respond to them crying than for them to run to you. Helping them calm down in their sleep space will make it easier for them to return to sleep.
Treating Nightmares Long-term
Discuss fears in the daytime.Oftentimes, your child will be unable to express their fears when they are still scared. During daytime, for example at lunch, talk about what scares them at night. Come up with solutions to their concerns. For example:
- Perhaps they are worried something is in the closet. Go and look inside the closet to see what is there.
- She might think the tree outside her window is a monster. Teach her to say: "it's just my favorite oak tree that I love to climb." Alternatively, you could close the curtains or re-position their bed.
Create a reward system.For every night that your child stays in bed, put a sticker on a chart. Once they fill the chart, give them a special treat. Tell them how proud you are of them. You might buy them a toy or take them to their favorite restaurant. You can decide the treat beforehand so they have a goal to reach.
Take your child to therapy.If none of your efforts work and nightmares plague your child, seek professional help. A psychologist or therapist who focuses on children can help you. It might be that your child has fears that they cannot express to you. A therapist can work with them one-on-one to find solutions.
QuestionWhat if my child is having nightmares about someone trying to kill them?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTry to sleep with them once in a while, and make sure they are not thinking about their nightmares. If they are, more will come. Distract them from those nightmares and have some fun; their dreams might change if they have positive thoughts on their mind.Thanks!
QuestionI had a nightmare and in my nightmare I killed my sister. Why did I have this dream? What does it mean?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIf you were annoyed or angry with your sister, it could have made its way into your dreams through this nightmare. If not, it probably doesn't mean anything. Part of the purpose of nightmares is to train our brains to handle intense, scary, emotional situations. We often do or experience intense, crazy things in nightmares. This should leave you better able to handle reality, and make you more appreciative of reality, which is much more pleasant and manageable!Thanks!
QuestionHow do I help my child to get rid of a snake nightmare?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerLearn more about snakes. Spend time talking to the child about snakes, how they live and what they do in the environment. Help the child to know proper, scientific understandings about snakes so that their fear is balanced with knowledge. Also help the child to know how to stay safe around snakes and how to leave snakes alone. The majority of snakes are frightened of human beings and do their best to stay away from them -- after all, it isn't an easy life when a large human foot and full body weight could suddenly land on you and end your life. When the child has a better understanding, introduce them to snakes or friendly cartoons of snakes, or even a toy of a snake. Visit the zoo to check out snakes. That way they will see them as good creatures to be treated with care, to be left well alone in their environment and not to be feared. The nightmares should cease with better understanding.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I go back to sleep after a nightmare?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThink of something that makes you really happy or think about something you look forward to.Thanks!
QuestionWhat could my child do if he is afraid to sleep in his room?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerConsider getting him a nightlight or fish tank. You could also have your son talk firmly to the "monsters" in his room, and tell them to stop frightening him. Lastly, you could fill a spray bottle with lavender-scented water, label it "Monster Be-Gone," and have your son spray the corners of his room with it before he goes to bed.Thanks!
QuestionMy child is doing a topic on natural disasters and she can't stop having nightmares about it. What do I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerReassure your child that the likelihood of her being in a natural disaster is rare, and even if it did happen, you would be there to protect her.Thanks!
QuestionI am 11 years old and I am having awful nightmares about me getting kill or kidnapped, and they won't stop. What should I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerStop watching horror movies or reading dark stories that make you feel unsafe. Instead, fill your mind and heart with light. Focus on fun, happy and loving things, and the nightmares will go away.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I deal with nightmares as a kid?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThink about it this way, if you are scared by a monster, realize he is just as scared as you are. Then maybe try to help him out as a "friend." I know it sounds kind of like little kid stuff, but in real life it is better to have more friends than enemies. Why not try in in your dreams? If this does not work, try thinking that you are saving someone and then you will feel like a hero and won't have time to focus on that stuff.Thanks!
QuestionWhenever I'm going to sleep, my parents watch a paranormal activity TV show, and when I hear these noises, I get afraid. What should I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerExplain this to your parents, and ask them to turn it down. You could also listen to soft music or white noise on your headphones.Thanks!
QuestionWhat should I do if I am a child and I am experiencing constant growing pains and nightmares?Payton VadasCommunity AnswerFirst get a heating pat to help the pain and ask a parent to stay with you until you go to sleep and feel better.Thanks!
Video: Toddler | Nightmares | StreamingWell.com
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