According to a recent article on WebMD, many children have nightmares.
Nightmares are most common in preschoolers (children aged 3-6 years) because this is the age at which normal fears develop and a child’s imagination is very active. Some studies estimate that as many as 50% of children in this age group have nightmares.
Nightmares involve frightening or unpleasant dreams that disrupt the child’s sleep on several occasions and cause distress or problems with everyday life. When children wake up because of a nightmare, they become aware of their surroundings and usually need comfort. As a result, parents often need to provide comfort.
The Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital offers these suggestions for coping with a child’s nightmares:
- Offer plenty of cuddles, comfort and reassurance to your child.
- During the day, talk about your child’s bad dream, and make sure to avoid frightening TV programs and movies.
- Leave the door to the child’s bedroom open, and offer a favorite toy or blanket for comfort.
- Avoid spending a lot of time looking for the “monster” that scared your child. Let your child go back to sleep in his or her own bed.
- Read a book about coping with nighttime fears.
- Before bed, talk about funny and happy topics.