Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Chasing Away Your Child's Nightmares

Over the past week my little one started having nightmares - four nights in a row, which is unusual for her!  A week ago Friday, there was a fire near our house, which we saw on our way home.  We were never in any danger, which I explained to her, and the firefighters did a wonderful job of putting it out before it got too out of control, but I think it was weighing on her mind.  On the third night, she woke up and climbed into bed with my husband and me, and on the fourth night when I heard her crying, I woke up and went in to sleep with her.  On Day Five, when it was bedtime, I tried something new - in addition to telling her that she was safe and sound in her cozy house, and that Mommy, Daddy and her big sister were all there with her - I told her that I was going to throw away all of her her bad dreams.  She was lying in bed, and I leaned over her and picked at the air around her head - seemingly grabbing her bad dreams and tossing them over my shoulder.  She loved it and giggled, but I was very serious in my task, and you know what?  No nightmares that night!  So, I did it again the next night - again, no nightmares!! 

My elder daughter went through a period of time where she seemed to be having quite a few nightmares and Grandpa and Gramby gave her a dream-catcher that she has had hanging on her bed for years.  She believes that it helps her, and it certainly seems to be doing it's job - she rarely ever has nightmares!  I was talking about this at work recently with some friends who are moms.  One of them said that her daughter went on the internet and found a Bible quote about God watching over her, which she posted near her bed.  She had been having nightmares and it has really helped her.

Whatever the method, in my experience, if you can reinforce to your child that they are safe from harm - whether through a strong power of suggestion or a strong sense of faith - the "monsters" will vanish and sleep will be restored to the kingdom!  


Martha Heineman Pieper, Ph.D. said...

I am a child psychotherapist. Of course one reason children have trouble sleeping is that they have bad dreams. One of the least productive responses, but one that parents are often told to make is to tell children that dreams are not “real” and to show them there is nothing under the bed or in the closet. But telling children that their bad dreams aren’t “really” scarey just keeps children running into their parents’ bedroom night after night. Helping children to realize that “dreams are stories we tell ourselves for a reason” and helping them understand that the reason lies with “unfinished business” from the day before will empower children to make sense of their own dreams and put themselves back to bed without having to awaken their parents. I have written a children’s picture book for ages 3 and up, Mommy, Daddy, I Had a Bad Dream! (www.mommydaddyihadabaddream.com) to help children and parents respond constructively to children’s bad dreams. Joey, a bouncy kangaroo has a series of bad dreams which his parents lovingly help him to understand until, by the last one, he is able to understand why he had it and to go back to bed feeling comforted and in charge.

The Fine Art of Motherhood said...

Thank you for commenting - I'll have to check your book out!