Does your child suffer from regular nightmares? Believe it or not, nightmares are far more common than most parents realise. In fact, according to research about a third of three-to-five year olds have them on a constant basis.
So what should you do if your child wakes up shaken, scared and visibly upset in the middle of the night? How do you soothe them? And, most importantly, how do you stop the nightmares from reoccurring?
Here are a few simple tips to ensure the monsters in your child’s nightmares disappear again as quickly as possible.
What are nightmares?
According to health experts, most nightmares usually happen in the early hours of the morning just before your child’s sleep comes to an end. More often than not, nightmares are usually associated with things that have happened to your child during the day. This is because children don’t understand the difference between fact and fantasy, so something small like being teased at play school can play on your child’s mind and turn into something far more sinister when they go to sleep.
Nightmares are more common in children who have an active and creative imagination, but every child will suffer from them at some point in their life. For the most part, nightmares are a normal thing. You should only ever worry if your child is starts to show major signs of stress when they’re awake as well.
Nightmares can be upsetting for children and for parents
What should you do?
The best thing you can do if your child has a nightmare is get to them as quickly as possible and give them a cuddle. Seeing you will offer your child comfort immediately and help to soothe them back to sleep. Getting to your child quickly will stop their fear from growing and means that the nightmare itself will become a less memorable event (as opposed to your child crying for you and you not appearing to comfort them).
Avoid nightmares by asking your child about their day – this will give them a chance to talk through anything that has upset them or bothered them and for you to comfort them or explain away any fears they may have.
How do you stop nightmares?
It’s always important to ask your child if they had a nice sleep when they wake up in the morning. This will encourage them to tell you if they had any bad dreams or to talk to you about things that may be worrying them.
By talking about any bad dreams with you, your child is less likely to dwell on them when they go to sleep again.