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Five tips to help ward off children's nightmares

Published on Monday, October 29, 2018

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Five tips to help ward off children's nightmares
 Nightmares not only disrupt sleeping patterns but can also cause stress and anxiety depending on the frequency. For children, most nightmares occur due to something that they saw or heard that seemed frightening or they didn’t understand — leaving their imagination to fill in the pieces.

 The health experts at Envolve, an integrated healthcare solutions company, share five tips to help you help your kids keep nightmares at bay.

  • Listen and Reassure. If children call out in the middle of the night, providing a hug and sense of security can go a long way. Remind them that they’re safe, at home, and that nothing bad is happening to them. Take some deep breaths together, and let them tell you about the nightmare. If needed, check out the closet or under the bed to show it’s safe. Giving extra snuggles while reminding them it was just a dream can help a great deal.
  • Prep During Day. If your child’s nightmares are consistent in storyline, character or environment, try incorporating daytime activities to address particular fears in a happier setting. Read a book together that has the fear featured in the storyline but ultimately ends happily. Look for coloring books or puzzles with the feared animal or character to open up the dialogue about why those are scary. Talking through the nightmare and changing the ending to a positive one while providing something fun to relate to may help calm your child’s mind at night.
  • Get Creative. Sometimes you just have to go on a monster hunt. Leave enough time before bed to search the room for monsters together with flashlights. Hang up a “no monsters allowed” sign on the door or go shopping and let your child pick out a new nightlight. When nighttime comes, let your child take to bed whatever comfort item helps create a feeling of security — even if it’s the family dog.
  • Reinforce Routine. Bedtime routines minimize stress and create predictability. If nightmares are a frequent occurrence, make sure you take steps to help calm and comfort your child. Turning on the nightlight, checking under the bed, peeking in the closet and reading a happy story are all things that can easily be incorporated into a bedtime routine — and help alleviate anxiety. 
  • Face the Fear. Sometimes the best way to address a fear is to face it head on. Depending on what is keeping your child up a night, seeing or doing something “in real life” may help in distinguishing the difference between a nightmare and reality. If the fear is fantasy based, work together to rewrite the ending. Talk through the bad dream then come up with silly and light-hearted ways to change the ending to one that leaves a smile instead of fear.

 

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