Children often have nightmares. Scary dreams would suddenly wake up toddlers from their sleep.
Nightmares make children upset and frightened. Often children may have bad dreams that would not wake them up, but nonetheless, they would remember the bad dream after waking up in the morning. Fear of nightmares and bad dreams could make the child scared of going to sleep the next night.
Nightmares or bad dreams, just like any other dream, occur during late sleeping period, when the child is undergoing Rapid Eye Movement. In children between 1 and 2 years of age, anxiety of sleeping alone can be responsible for nightmares. Sometimes a real life experience that leaves a mark on the child’s mind can be responsible for nightmares. If the child is worried about something, and if something disturbing has happened to the child or to someone in the family, it might bring bad dreams or nightmares.
Frightening images seen on television can also cause nightmares. Often children have nightmares when they are sick. Nightmare in children can be the side effect of certain medications. According to a recent study, nightmares in children are sometimes side effects of Tamiflu, the medicine given to swine flu patients.
Dealing with nightmares
Nightmares are usually a temporary phase in a toddler’s life. Nonetheless, parents should help the child to overcome the fear of nightmares. Often children think what they have dreamt will happen in their real life. Parents should assure the child that dreams are not real. You can ask your child to narrate what he/she has dreamt. Talking can help the child overcome his fear. Avoid talking to your child about the nightmare during the night. Talk to him about his bad dreams during the day. Sometimes nightmares are signs of abuse. Try to recognize if any real disturbing reason is behind the nightmare.
Keep a nightlight in the child’s bedroom. Always assure your child that he/she is absolutely safe with his/her parents. When your child goes to bed, stay with him until he falls asleep. You can keep the doors of the bedroom open. See that your child does not watch any frightening program on TV. Ask your child to say a prayer before going to bed.