A child who wakes up screaming from a horrible nightmare is one of the worst fears of any parent. Nightmares leave children extremely disturbed and can affect their peace of mind for days on end. While they are traumatic for children, they are extremely distressing for the parents too as no parent wants to see their child upset. Nightmares can not only haunt a child’s night, but also can vastly affect their days and cause a lasting impact on their social and academic life. There are various causes of nightmares and only by understanding these can you help your child fight them.
Causes of Nightmares in Children
A child’s brain is very receptive as well as imaginative. Children tend to create a world of their own which is a lot more fantasy based than an adult’s. They have the beautiful ability to view all their experiences in a different light than an adult does.
While a child sleeps, these experiences are often sorted out and jumbled up during the deeper stages of the REM cycle. The REM cycle is the stage of sleep in which humans are most likely to dream. These images that your child sees can be negative or positive both based on their experiences. Most of these dreams are somehow linked with the emotions your child feels during the day such as happiness, sadness, fear, anxiety etc.
When a child experiences a nightmare, it happens possibly due to some fearsome of upsetting incident that happened during the day. The images from that experience get embedded in their brain and are later relayed as some twisted and upsetting version.
Another major cause of nightmares is some sort of fear or anxiety that has been weighing on your child’s head. They find their way into your child’s imagination and then are later replayed in the worst possible way.
Can Nightmares in Children be cured?
Yes. Fortunately, children can be quite easily cured of nightmares as what they mostly require as an antidote is love and affection. Here are some of the easiest ways you can help your child fight nightmares:
- Develop Proper Sleeping Routine: Make certain that your child goes to bed on time and wakes up on time. A warm and comforting sleeping routine such as a bedtime story or a cup of hot chocolate can soothe them into a night of peaceful slumber.
- Talk to Your Child: When your child wakes up worried and distressed, make sure you talk to them before coddling them. Do not let them repress the thoughts of their experience. Instead let them talk it out until everything that worries them is off their mind.
- Reassure Your Child: Once you hear your child talk their nightmare and the fear associated with it out, reassure them with reasoning how it was just a nightmare and they need not fear anything.
- TV and Video Game Control: Make sure you are monitoring the kinds of Video Games and TV shows your child plays. Do not let them watch scary or gruesome visuals before bed.
- Install a Night Light: Install a night light on their bedside table and make sure they have easy access to it.