How to Help Children Deal With Nightmares?

Kids have a cute innocence in them. They believe in fairy tales. For them, fairies and demons both exist. You will often find them relating fictional characters and stories with real life. Some children often get nightmares. They may wake up in the middle of the night crying, all scared and shaken. Most of these nightmares not only affect their sleep but also leave the children disturbed physically as well as mentally.

To help the children deal with the situation better, you first need to understand what triggers the nightmares. Mentioned below are the factors that can play a pivotal role in causing nightmares in children.

1. Bullying and harassment

This is a serious issue that can leave behind a deep scar on the child, both physically as well as mentally. The last few years have seen an unbelievable rise in instances of child abuse, bullying (particularly in schools), and harassment. These events leave the child so stressed out that they end up getting nightmares.

2. Separation anxiety

You may come across babies and kids who get panicky at the thought of being separated from their parents. Such kids often get hysterical if their parents, especially mother, go out of the sight even for a second. For working parents, it is not possible to be around the kids 24×7. Nightmares are common among such kids.

3. Negative environment

With kids around, it is important to maintain a positive and cheerful atmosphere at home. Frequent fights and abuses will create negativity leaving the child getting disturbed and having nightmares.

Watching a scary movie or listening to scary stories just before retiring to bed can also have a negative influence and increase the incidences of nightmares.

How to help kids deal with nightmares?

1. Nightmares can never be a pleasurable experience leaving the kids all scared and terrorized. A little help and understanding from the parent’s end can go a long way to help the kids deal with the situation better.

2. Do not take the situation lightly if your child shows extreme reluctance in going to school (school refusal behaviour). This could be an indication of something as big as a school bullying. If need be, contact the school authorities to know where the problem lies. Once the situation improves, the incidences of nightmares will also reduce drastically.

3. Try and spend quality time with the kids. Indulge in day outs, weekend getaways, picnics and mini vacations. Spending more time with the kids will bring about a positive change, leaving them happy and cheerful.

4. Disciplining the children are important but know where to draw the line. Being over strict can may not be a healthy idea.

5. If your child wakes up feeling scared, give them the assurance and the confidence that there is nothing to fear about, that there are no ghosts or monsters under the bed or in the toilet. In fact, the best idea would be to refrain from sharing scary bedtime stories with the kids. Instead, share something humorous and happy so that they can sleep feeling happy. The same goes for movies and cartoons.

6. It is normal for you to have frustrations related to personal and professional life. However, do not vent it out near the kids. It can affect them beyond imagination. Understand the child psychology and work accordingly. Keep negativity and stress at bay.

7. If your child is getting nightmares frequently, do not make them sleep alone (at least till the condition improves).

8. Consult a doctor if nothing seems to work to avoid further deterioration. 

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