Is your child having nightmares? Night time bad dreams are a very common problem in young children with up to twenty-five percent of kids experiencing them at least once a week. A child who experiences frequent nightmares may develop a fear of going to sleep at night as well as experience frequent awakenings and generalized anxiety. As a parent, it’s important to know how handle the problem of childhood nightmares so you can help your child take the fear out of these scary night time experiences. Here are some suggestions on how to handle childhood nightmares:
How to stop nightmares: Design your child’s sleep area
If your child is afraid to sleep at night due to the fear of having a nightmare, make his or her sleep area as peaceful and comfortable as possible. Simple things like providing your child with a small night light or leaving the bedroom door open can go a long ways towards allaying your child’s fears. You may also want to consider playing some soft music in the background at bedtime to help calm your child before he falls asleep.
How to stop nightmares: Discuss anything that might be troubling your child
Sometimes childhood nightmares can be precipitated by underlying anxiety or stressors in your child’s life. Spend some time talking to your child and determine whether there are underlying issues bothering him. Consider any changes that have occurred in your child’s life recently. Did he start school or pre-school? Maybe he’s having a problem adjusting to the new environment. Has there been family related stress that could be affected your child? If so, these issues need to be discussed with your child.
How to stop nightmares: Consider your child’s medications
Has your child been placed on a new medication recently? There are a variety of medications that can cause vivid dreams and nightmares. If your child is having nightmares, this is a good time to review your child’s medications with his doctor. Also keep in mind that caffeine is a stimulant drug that can contribute to scary dreams. Reassess how much soft drinks your child is drinking on a daily basis as well as his chocolate consumption. Sometimes discontinuing all caffeine can reduce the incidence of nightmares.
How to stop nightmares: Consider your child’s diet
A diet high in sugars and simple carbohydrates particularly when eaten before bedtime can contribute to childhood nightmares. The best bedtime snack to promote healthy sleep patterns is a glass of warm milk without added sugar or chocolate. Limit your chlid’s consumption of carbohydrate rich foods, particularly within a few hours of bedtime.
How to stop nightmares: Allow your child to talk about his fears
If your child awakens from sleep with a nightmare, allow him to talk about what scared him without being overly indulgent. The simple act of expressing his fears can be enough to loosen the hold the bad dream has on him. Emphasize that what he experienced was only a dream and the bad characters have no ability to harm him.
Childhood nightmares generally clear up as your child gets older. Until then, making your child’s sleeping environment as comfortable as possible and encouraging him to talk about his dreams can help to reduce the impact of childhood nightmares.