It’s obvious that when your baby go to sleep you probably say “Good night and sweet dreams” but sometimes it doesn’t happen. In the heart of the night something often interrupts their sleeps: terrifying nightmares.
There are no certain information about what age kids begin to dream, but nightmares are common especially between 1 and 8 years.
During the REM sleep suddenly baby wake up terrified and he remember well all the images about his bad dream and he doesn’t want to sleep again to fear of reviewing bad images.
Children are not able to draw a distinction between dreams and reality until 4 years so they ask mum and dad to stand by them to be reassured and to fall asleep again.
During this difficult stage, parents have to help their son for the good of his psychological development.
Nightmares as dreams, are part of normal development, all this allows children to work out fears, desires and frustrations. During the day child’s job is hard: he must obey at society’s rules, adapting himself to the various personal and family situations and sometimes he lives conflicts. This strifes have been drafted during REM phase through nightmares.
But don’t be afraid! Bad dreams are an useful escape valve which help children to set out their fears and it helps them to overcome daily difficulties.
How to Help Your Son?
Until 3 years old, baby want and need an helpful presence beside him.
It is very important to:
- relieve and to explain him that also parents have lived and overcame this fears.
- communicate him the idea of safety
- listen at him
- encourage him to stay in bed.
What to do:
- you can tender him a glass of water
- you can effuse a “stardust” in his bedroom and on his eyes
- if he has a brother they can share the bedroom
- you can install little night-light near his bed
- you can give him a security object like blankie or a protective Boo Bear
- Underestimate and don’t wake his fears
- Let him to sleep with you: it would strengthen child’s fears and probably your son will be addicted to sleep with you. He can sleep in your bed even two nights in a row. If he comes into your room in the middle of the night, you have to accompany him again in his bedroom.
From 4 years old children are able to distinguishing dream and reality so you can add more tips in addition to those you can do with babies.
In fact if your child have a nightmare you can:
- Teach him to be a “superhero”. Offer him a model by reading books and inventing stories.
- Be positive and think positive! Give him positive examples and talk with him about good and funny situations he lived during the day
- Discuss his fear during the day and far from sleeping time
- Keep your child away from scary TV shows, videos or cartoons that may add to his fears.
Last but not least teach him what’s nice about night. You can explain him the magical solar system or the story about man on the moon and, if you believe in God, you can reassure him that saints are protecting him from the sky.