Children And Nightmares

Nightmares among children are a common occurance. They are a sign that the child is dealing with a change, conflict, or trauma in their life.

Nightmares among children are a common reoccurrence, especially between the ages of 3 and 6.Most nightmares occur between 4 and 6 am in the morning.There are also nightmares known as night terrors.These types of dreams occur when a child is in more deep sleep, between the times of 1 and 4 am.

Why Children Have Nightmares

Children generally have nightmares in order to deal with the things in their lives that are upsetting, but which they are unable to explain.Every nightmare is full of information that deals with the emotional challenges that are taking place in a child's life at that time.Because children easily relate to role-playing and fantasies, nightmares become a symbol for the things that they are coping with in their lives, especially changes, upsetting events, and relationships.

Are Nightmares Common?

Nightmares are common and natural for children.Children under the age of six are known to have several nightmares.This is completely natural.By the ages of seven and eight, about ten percent of children are still having nightmares at least once a week.By the time the children are between the ages of eleven and fourteen, the nightmares should be fairly infrequent, as the children are able to express themselves more freely, and cope with the changes and situations at hand more logically.

Types of Nightmares

One of the most common elements to nightmares is recurring dream sequences.Children will often have a dream about one particular thing, animal, or person that disturbs them.The nightmare then becomes frequent.For example, a child falls off a bike when they are learning to ride.They then have a nightmare about falling off this bike.When another event occurs that is traumatic to the child, they may have nightmares about falling off the bike again.This event turns into a symbol in order for the child to express the meaning of an event that is traumatic or stressful to them.

There are also stages of resolution that take place in a nightmare.The first part of the nightmare is a threat.For example, a ghost or monster approaches them and they are unable to run away.The second part is struggle.This is where the child is able to temporarily rescue themselves or come up with some sort of defense to ward off their demons.The third part of resolution is the actual resolution, where the ghost in their dreams completely disappears and the fear is overcome.These stages of resolution are a way for the child to work through the problem or trauma that is happening in their life.The resolution may take several years to sort out.

Helping Your Child to Resolve a Nightmare

There are several steps that families can take in order to solve the nightmares that your child is having.

1. Reassurance - This means welcoming the dream and letting your child know that it is ok.It is important to calm the child's anxiety and allow them to begin to express what it may mean.This may mean staying up with the child in order to talk about the nightmare.Allowing the child to sleep with the parent is not an effective method, as it does not allow them to begin coping with the nightmare on their own.

2. Rescripting - This step helps the child to reenact the nightmare that they had.When they are able to express this out loud, it is not as threatening.A step then can be taken to come up with alternative endings.This will help the child to fight off the demons, and come up with some sort of resolution so that the nightmare will stop causing anxiety.

3. Rehearsal - This step is used to create as many alternative plots to the nightmare.By finding several different scripts for the nightmare, the child is able to become more at ease with the conflicts that they are having.

4. Resolution - By acknowledging and correcting the problem that has caused the child's nightmares, they are then able to link and express the conflict with the real life problem that is causing the situation.The child and the adult are then able to resolve the conflict or trauma that the child is experiencing.

5. Prevention - Often times, nightmares occur because of television viewings or things that they see around them.This can be prevented with monitoring of the environment which the child is.

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