Why do we dream in the first place? Dreams help the mind process complicated information and events from our daily lives. Nightmares are scary dreams that awaken a child from sleep. Occasional bad dreams are normal at all ages. Since people average four dreams a night, they can't all be good. Nightmares are a fine barometer of how things went during the day. Learning how to walk, weaning from the bottle, or starting a new day care can all trigger a few nightmares.
For simple nightmares, go to your child, sit on his bed and hold him until he's calm. Most children return to sleep fairly quickly.
For repetitive nightmares, help your child talk about the bad dream during the day. Help him change the ending to one that turns out well. Encourage him to choose a powerful person or a magic weapon to help him overcome the bad parts of the dream. Have your child draw pictures of the new ending to the dream.
By the way, don't forget to protect him from scary movies. They cause more than their share of bad nightmares.
If you have other questions about nightmares, consult your healthcare provider.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D. FAAP
Last Review: 6/1/2008
Last Revised: 6/1/2000
Copyright 1994-2008 Barton Schmitt, M.D. Parent Advice Messages.