October 29, 2018
You hear cries or whimpers coming from your child’s room in the middle of the night. Worse yet, they run into your room scared. Your child is experiencing a nightmare.
To a child, a nightmare is very real and very terrifying. As a parent, you want to do everything in your power to alleviate this fear. It can be difficult to explain a bad dream to your child, so you have to help them understand it in inventive ways so they can go back to sleep.
When your child is frightened, you want to comfort them. That’s okay, but encouraging them to always run to you when they experience a nightmare is bad for their sleep and won’t help them handle scary dreams in the long-run. Talk to your child about the importance of facing their fears and read them books that enforce the same message. You can sit with them in their room every once in a while after a bad dream, just try not to do it too frequently.
As a toddler, it’s not only scary being in a room alone, it’s even more scary to do it in the dark. For many of them darkness equates to danger, inspiring nightmares. Try playing games in the dark, like flashlight tag. This will help acclimate your child to become less afraid of the dark. If that still doesn’t work, try dim nightlights (not too bright as it will disrupt sleep). It may not work for all children, but it could be an effective tool for some.
Once your child is a toddler and can start safely having toys in the bed with them, try seeing if a stuffed best friend will help them sleep. Having a friend in bed will make them feel safe and secure, either reducing nightmares or making them feel more secure when they do still happen. Some children go as far as feeling protective over their stuffed animal, making them braver.
One of the best ways to get your children to stop running to you after a nightmare is to teach them some relaxation techniques to deter nightmares. The simple task of focusing on breathing in and out can help them fall back to sleep peacefully and recover from a nightmare.
One of the simplest things you can do for your child is make sure they feel secure at home. To avoid your child getting scared, try to create a calming environment that will lull them back to sleep. Their sleep is important to their development, so the best thing you can do is to make their room feel like a safe haven. Incorporate decor centered around things they like, that way they will feel comfortable alone and less likely to have nightmares.
Here’s to only sweet dreams for you and your little ones!
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