1. Childhood Nightmares: Explore children’s nightmares—how they affect sleep and emotions, and when they typically begin.
2. Managing Nighttime Fears: Learn how to comfort your child after a nightmare through understanding, love, and security.
3. Preventing Recurring Nightmares: Discover ways to create a calming sleep environment, including routines, comfort objects, and anxiety reduction.
Nightmares are frightening! They can frighten us and even make us sweat! However, as adults we know that these dreams are not real, but do children also have nightmares? Experts don’t know exactly when nightmares begin, but they know that young children can have them. When your little one is about two years old, his imagination has evolved and, if he has a nightmare, he can definitely get frightened and wake up. If your child sleeps well and seems to wake up agitated and frightened, he may have had a nightmare. Nightmares usually occur during the second stage of sleep, so he may wake up scared in the morning. If he can talk, ask him what’s wrong, he may be able to tell you what he experienced.
What should I do if my little one had a nightmare?
- Respect and acknowledge his fear.
- If he can talk, let him narrate his dream and be sympathetic.
- Show him lots of love and security; caress his back until he calms down.
- Offer him a stuffed animal, and place it in his crib.
- Leave a nightlight on.
- Don’t overreact or make this a big deal. Your baby can read your reactions and feel even more scared if you are anxious.
- Remind your child that monsters don’t exist and nothing will harm him at night.
- Remember: most habits are difficult to break; avoid bringing your child into your bed. If this happens once in a while it’s not a problem, but if it happens often it may soon form a habit.
How can I prevent nightmares?
- Strengthen quiet routines; read him stories with a happy thematic. If you find one about how wonderful night and bedtime is, awesome!
- Keep the room at a pleasant temperature.
- Have your little one choose a nightlight and leave it on all night.
- Provide your little one with a stuffed animal of blanket that works as a transitional object (one that can be associated with calm and security).
- Prevent your child from watching TV with content that may scare or worry him.
- Usually children have more nightmares when they are anxious or stressed. If he’s having recurring nightmares, try to find out what worries him in order to decrease his anxiety.
We hope these tips help to consolidate your little one’s sleep and eliminate or diminish the fear caused by a nightmare.