What Are Nightmares?

Nightmares in children are a common issue. A scary and frightening dream that forces the child to wake up in the middle of the night is known as a nightmare. They usually occur in the third last phase of the night because a person has maximum Rapid Eye Movement (REM) during this time.

In children, miseries seem even real, which creates problems to get them back to sleep after such an experience. There can be times when the child resists going to bed to skip such inappropriate sights.

Why Do Nightmares Occur?

The precise reason behind nightmares is still unknown. 

They are more likely to occur in the following cases:

  • When the child is stressed or overtired
  • Kids who have faced traumatic experiences in the past are the most affected ones
  • The regular prescriptions may also induce nightmares in your child which can be disturbing

Why Are Kids More Prone To Nightmares?

Generally, a child undergoes nightmares at least once in their early years. Regular or those cases demanding help are pretty rare. There can be numerous reasons behind this.

  •  In kids, nightmares can occur at any age but are usually known to occur between three and six years. 
  • Such incidents tend to decline by the age of ten. 
  • Girls are more likely to encounter nightmares after the age of twelve as compared to boys of a similar age group.

The kinds of nightmares also vary with the differences in evolving years. Your kid may have thoughts of getting separated from you or may see monsters initially. With evolution, these may transit towards scary scenes related to horror movies or any cause leading to stress, such as starting with schooling. 

Is It Possible To Reduce Nightmares By Any Chances?

Numerous factors can help to decrease the interactions of nightmares in your child. Some of them include:

  • Try to keep the sleep routine light and cheerful: Ensure your child does not watch any horror movie or other threatening stuff by any means at least an hour prior to their bed time. Avoid narrating any scary stories as well. Reduce materials that may be disturbing to them in any form.
  • Make them comforted and reassured: This is the time when cuddling your child can do wonders. Also, stay with them for a short duration post a nightmare encounter. 
  • Ensure they get good sleep: Kids need longer sleep than adults (as per the American Academy Of Sleep Medicine recommendations for each age group). When they get enough sleep, it significantly reduces the number and intensity of nightmares.
  • Talk about their experience during the daytime: Talk about the experiences your child encountered. It assists in discovering if any themes or patterns are visible, precisely when they frequently occur—numerous factors such as new school, family worries, or others that bother them the most. Work to identify any anxiety boosters in your child which might cause such incidents.
  • Motivate your child to go back to sleep in their own bed. Avoid any extreme attention or pampering. But let them cuddle their favorite soft toy for the night if required. 
  • Prevent keeping any bright lights on in the bedroom; night lights shall comfort them.
  • Consider keeping the door of the bedroom unlocked. It shows your kid that they are secure and you are around. 
Asking your child to portray their evil imaginations and tearing them up represents a symbolic gesture and helps them overcome their fears.

Asking your child to portray their evil imaginations and tearing them up represents a symbolic gesture and helps them overcome their fears.

  • You and your kid can sit back and find ways to overcome nightmares together. Start by reading stories about reaching over nightmare fears. Ask them to draw sketches about their evil imaginations and tear them up. It expresses a symbolic gesture that assists them in defeating their imagination. Think about any other creative ideas that may perform and is worth trying. 

Are There Any Strategies To Overcome Nightmare Fear?

Whether it’s fear of the dark or just anxiety about moving to the bed, all are pretty common factors causing nightmares in children during their early childhood years. Below are a few tips for a parent or any other caretaker on how to address your child’s sleep and assist them in overcoming their fears. 

  • What is your child afraid of? 

Initiate by identifying the fear and its cause. Listen to what your child has to convey. Ask them questions that will help them speak openly about their bedtime fears. Do not make fun of your child’s fears in any form. What may seem funny and irrational to you may concern your child severely.

  • Reassure your child’s safety

If your child got separated from you for a while, it might have turned times harder for them. After such an incident, make sure to reassure them. Tuck your child back into their bed. Gently pat them and stay back along during the night. If you require tips to overcome their inability to sleep, refer to this blog on “Baby Sleep Tips.”

When Should I Call The Pediatrician?

Assess contacting your doctor if:

  • Your child has severe issues and fears about bedtime and is getting worse.
  • Their fears interrupt day-to-day activities.
  • The concerns are related to a specific traumatic incident. It might have created situations that require mental counseling.
  • Your child’s nightmares are quite recurring or involve any psychological issues. There might be a requirement to undergo desensitization and other related relaxation techniques.