The fear of nightmares is a common part of childhood, but it is also something you and your child can get through together. You just need to know how to tackle those eventful nights head-on. With a few simple techniques and plenty of soothing, your child will be headed back to dreamland before you know it.
1. Respect His Feelings:
When you take his feeling seriously, you are reminding your child that his feelings do matter. Approach the situation by reassuring him that he is okay, and be sure to give him plenty of comforting hugs.
2. Turn It Into Praise:
Rather than looking at his nightmares as a bad thing, tell your child it really mean that he has a wonderful imagination. With this imagination, he can control what happens next in his dreams.
3. Talk About It:
Talking to your child about his nightmare can help him to face his fears. Encourage him talk about his nightmares and even his good dreams with you. One way to encourage discussion is to give your child a dream journal, where he can write or draw pictures about his good and bad dreams.
4. Share Your Nightmares:
If your child has any trouble opening up, share your stories of having nightmares as a child. Your baby may respond by discussing his nightmares with you. It also reminds your child that he is not alone in having nightmares.
5. Change The Ending:
Children love storytelling, so work with your child to make up a happy ending to the nightmares. Maybe your son has defeated the fire-breathing dragon and became a knight, or your daughter has wings and never has to worry about falling into darkness because she can fly. You want to keep the ending as happy -and even as silly- as possible.
6. Show Him Monsters Are Fictional:
Rather than playing along with monster hunts, remind your child that monsters are not real. Show him how monsters are made for movies and Halloween costumes, so he is aware that it is all pretend. If you want to take this to the next level, create an art project that involves your child creating his own friendly or silly monster.
7. Let It Shine:
The dark can bring on his fear of nightmares, so leave a landing light on and provide a night light, flashlight or glowing toy next to his bed. You can even turn it into an educational lesson by discussing animals who can actually see in the dark.
8. Give Them Control:
Ask your child what makes him feel comfortable in his bedroom. He may want the door wide open, his good luck charm on the dresser or an army of stuffed animals at the foot of his bed.
9. Encourage Them To Stay In Bed:
Your child should always stay in bed if possible. Let him know that his stuffed animals are right there, and leave a cheerful book on his nightstand to look through while he calms back down.
10. Calming Techniques:
Help your child practice different techniques for calming down after a nightmare. He can recite his alphabet, count backward from 20, sing a song or recite a silly poem.
11. Encourage Positive Thinking:
If your child deals with anxiety, come up with ideas to create happy thoughts. He can think of his favorite movie or book, the playground or hold his favorite toy.
Helping your child face his fear of nightmares is not an impossible task. All you have to do is come up with techniques that work for him, be as comforting as possible and he will be ready to go back to sleep.