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What to do if a child has nightmares?

Why do children have terrible dreams and what to do about it?


Does a child often scream in a dream, call mom and dad, wake up in a cold sweat and afraid to fall asleep himself? Unfortunately, this situation is known to almost all parents. According to psychological studies, every third child aged three to seven years is exposed to nightmares. What can be the cause of frequent disturbing dreams in children and how to deal with it Alison will tell in today's article.

Children can have nightmares because of many factors, both physiological and psychological. The cause of nightmares is always worth looking for in the daily life of the child. An unfavorable situation in the family, stresses when entering kindergarten or school, lack of contact with peers, overwork, disturbances in the baby’s health (fever, adenoids, difficulty breathing), changes in diet - there are a lot of causes of anxious and restless sleep. The main task of parents is not to lose their temper and not to panic. Thus, instead of helping the baby, you only complicate and aggravate the situation. 

First of all, it is necessary to identify the possible cause of nightmares, as well as provide the child with absolute support and attention on his part. Do not leave the baby alone before he is going to sleep, sit with him, talk about something pleasant and positive, tell a fairy tale, sing a lullaby, hug and kiss. Your love and care is the best cure for fear and anxiety.



If disturbing dreams in a child are a fairly common occurrence, you can determine their source by keeping a diary. By recording all the previous events and dreams of the child, you can find a connection between them and eliminate those factors that negatively affect the psyche of the baby and, in particular, lead to nightmares. 

Also, there is a method of dealing with scary dreams, which was developed by the famous child psychologist L.J. Egr. According to this technique, you should ask the child to tell about his dream, then imagine and draw its favorable ending. After that, let the baby tell the dream again with the ending of the story that he invented and drew. This technique will help the baby understand that he is able to control and change his dream when he wants to, and he will feel more calm and confident. In addition, you can play with a child a situation in which his favorite toy interferes in a nightmare and changes his bad outcome to a good one. Put this toy next to the child’s bed and tell him that from now on it will protect his sleep. 


If a kid often dreams of a certain scary character - a wild beast, a monster, Koschey the Immortal and the like, let him try to overcome it not in a dream, but in reality. Offer the crumbs to draw their horror story, mold it from plasticine, or cut it out of cardboard and destroy it - burn it, tear it up, throw it in the trash can during a walk. Such an imitation of victory over a fictional enemy will build confidence and strength in the baby's subconscious to resist their fears. Some tips on how to prevent nighttime fears and nightmares from manifesting in your baby:
  • Limit the environmental impact on the psyche of the child. First of all, create a calm and peaceful atmosphere at home (do not quarrel in front of the child, do not discuss shocking news and events with him). Also limit the time spent behind the screen, computer games and cartoons. Allow gadgets to be used only during the day and in your presence. According to research by American scientists, most children who experience nightmares actively play various computer games, which are often not even designed for their age.
  • Create a clear day and sleep regimen for your child. For children aged 4-5 years, a sleep norm of 12 hours is characteristic (night sleep - 10-11 hours, daytime sleep - 1 hour). At the age of 6 to 10 years, the child should sleep at least 9-10 hours a day.
  • Try to control the games and activity of the child in the evening. He should not be too excited, play active and outdoor games. Great options before going to bed would be to read him a book, watch a good, positive film in the family circle, or play a board game.
  • Do not give your baby heavy and satisfying food 2-3 hours before bedtime, however, it is not recommended that the child go to bed hungry. It is best to offer the baby kefir, cottage cheese or tea with cookies.
  • In order for the baby to calm down and relax before going to bed, you can give him warm infusions of soothing herbs: lemon balm, chamomile, calendula and others.
  • Quiet walks in the fresh air and moderate exercise throughout the day are also excellent prevention of anxiety and nightmares. Record your baby in the swimming section, karate, football, or just do morning exercises with him - it's up to you. However, sports and fresh air should be mandatory attributes of every day of your baby.

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