Understanding Nightmares and How To Deal With Them
For as long as I can remember, my oldest son, Caelum has been having nightmares almost every single night. It usually happens within the first few hours of his sleep. He wakes up crying and usually he is not very aware until I come in to check on him. It is like he is still asleep but is sitting up crying and talking. I can never really understand what he is saying, he just says a few words in the middle of his hysterical crying and eventually goes back to sleep after I comfort him.
I can remember as a child I was quite similar. I had the biggest imagination and was always having nightmares. I still remember some of those childhood nightmares to this day, they terrified me that much. So, I can understand how my son feels. He has definitely inherited my wild imagination!
The hysterical crying and nightmares can be difficult to deal with and understand when it starts happening at first, so I thought I would share some tips on comforting your child when he or she has a nightmare and ways to prevent it.
Ask them what is making them scared
I find once Caelum verbalises his fears and I show that I understand it he begins to relax. I reassure him his fears won’t hurt him and that I understand why this is scary, but he will be fine.
Don’t dismiss their fears
Dismissing their fears won’t make them any less afraid and they won’t feel reassured or like anything is resolved. Anything can happen in a child’s imagination, even though you know it’s not realistic, but your child doesn’t know that!
Whatever comforts them, whether it’s a soother, a bottle, a teddy or just your presence, offer it to them! Anything that is of comfort to them will be sure to relax and soothe them back to sleep.
When my son first started to have nightmares, he would often ask for his door to be left wide open after it. It was the light coming from the hallway that was reassuring and comforting him. I had always vowed never to have a night light in my kid’s bedrooms because I slept with a light on for years so didn’t want to instil the same into my children! But nonetheless, I gave in and bought him a nightlight and his nightmares definitely lessened and he wasn’t crying every night he went to bed.
Bed time routine
Developing a solid bed time routine can also be helpful if your child has a fear of going to bed, caused by the nightmares. It will prepare them and give them time to calm down before bed. My son loves a reading a book every night before bed and it instantly relaxes him.