Tips On How To Manage Your Child’s Nightmares
What a NIGHTMARE!
We use the term ‘Nightmare’ to describe a range of bad situations but a real nightmare can leave a child feeling angry, shameful, scared, anxious, or upset. Whilst toddlers can take a long time to calm down because they believe the nightmare to be real, older children can learn to differentiate dreams from reality and develop coping techniques to help them resettle. Nightmares can be triggered by psychological stress such as anxiety, or having witnessed an accident/natural disasters/scary TV programme.
All children are different and prevention methods may not work for all children. You need to find the best way that suits you and your child but try some of the ideas below and let us know what works for you.
Top Tips to help manage your child’s nightmares.
• Listen and discuss – Listen to your child’s worries and discuss how they are feeling and why. This will give you an indication of the cause of the night terrors and could enlighten you to a solution. You can try using the Sorgenfresser to help get rid of any worries before bedtime.
• Have fun in the dark – Get a torch and have a treasure hunt or play tag in the dark. By a child having fun in the dark they will associate the dark with fun and will become less scared.
• Reassure your child – Provide comfort and tell them that there is nothing to worry about. A kiss and cuddle may do this. Agree a strategy with older children to help them calm down and forget the bad dream – reading a joke book or something silly can help.
• Get into a healthy sleep routine – Try and devise a bedtime routine together and adhere to this as much as possible to encourage calm and peaceful bedtimes.
• Provide security for your child – Allow your child to sleep with something that provides them with comfort, such as a soft toy or blanket. We like the My First Forever Friends Sweet Dreams and Pillow pets
• No scary TV – Ensure that your child is not watching or witnessing anything scary before bed that could provoke a nightmare.
• Encourage positive thoughts – Read the start of a calm, happy story and let them imagine or tell you the rest of it. This encourages positive dreams and promotes their sense of control.
• Keep the door open – Keep the child’s door slightly open to prevent them from feeling isolated. They may fall asleep easier with background noise and hearing their parents voices. Also if a child is experiencing a nightmare and becomes distressed then parents have more of a chance of hearing them with the door open.
• Let there be light – Some children feel happier with a night-light on. This is fine and maybe the comfort your child needs . Just ensure that the night-light does not prevent the child from falling asleep, make it as dim as possible.Tags: aggression, child development, childhood trauma, Dr Gummer, emotional development, empathy, night terror, nightmares, parenting, Play Advice, play ideas, teddy bears, toys
This post was written by Dr Amanda Gummer