Nightmares may seem normal to you, but to a child who has never had them before, sleeping with the threat of nightmares may be difficult. Let me share my son’s first experience with nightmares and some of the things I did to help him get over his fears.
My son is seven years old and bed-wetting is no longer a nightly occurrence. Finally, I feel like we’re on the right track and everyone can sleep for eight hours every night without any disturbances. But it wasn’t long before another problem cropped up. While I was tucking him in bed one night, my son looked me in the eye and told me he’s too afraid to sleep. I did what most parents would do: I hopped into bed with him until he dozed off, and he did. But after an hour, he woke up again crying. That was when I realized it was a nasty nightmare.
Although we wish that our little angels would only have nice dreams at night, nighttime disturbances in the form of a nightmare does occur relatively frequently. Your kids may have picked up some disturbing thoughts during the day, or they may have been exposed to things that scared them without you knowing. This could happen while they were watching television, playing with classmates, riding the school bus or simply seeing a bug in the backyard – all this may lead to bad dreams.
Here are some tips for easing your little one:
1) Encourage him to talk about his bad dream: Listen to your child patiently while he is recounting the experience and reassure him that it’s just a dream.
2) Never laugh while he’s crying about his nightmare: It can be horrifying for your child if you laugh or snicker while he is trying to describe what could be his scariest experience so far. Never dismiss his fears, even if your intention is to keep things light. To your child, these could be serious concerns.
3) Talk in a reassuring manner: Hold him close and reassure your child that nothing will hurt him while he sleeps. Keep your voice low and soothing and remind him that he’s safe.
4) Buy him a security item: Something that reinforces security does not necessarily have to be a blanket. Examples of a security item include a stuffed doll, a talisman or religious icon by his bed, and a small token from you tucked beneath his pillow.
5) Craft a dream catcher together and put it over his bed: A small dream catcher is easy enough to create using beads, colored thread and crafting wires. It is believed that dream catchers are charms that protect sleeping people from nightmares, so having one by your little one’s bed might put him at ease.
6) Teach your child a song: Teach him a song you sing in church, a mantra or phrase that he can repeat to himself over and over again when the bad dreams recur. Any mantra or song that your child believes can drive the bad dreams away will help reassure him that he is safe.
7) Use a nightlight: If your child can’t sleep with the light on, use a nightlight that only illuminates a small area of the room.
8) Keep the door open: You should keep the door open so that light, and you, can enter the room. Your child will be able to rest well if he knows that you’ll come by to check on him while he’s sleeping.
Do you have any other tips that soothes your child from nightmares? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.