Various fears and nightmares are normal in childhood. A child between two and a half and three years old has a fertile imagination and grows a lot of fears. During that period the child begins to realize that his or her parents will not be able to protect him from pain or multiple disappointments and frustrations. The child’s fears vary according to age but are normal in the process of growth and development and continue with him until adolescence.
The nightmares that come to the child are usually a reflection of his fears and challenges. Often, nightmares come to the child when something important happens in his life, such as moving to a new home, giving birth to a new child in the family, traveling to his mother, or going to school. Usually nightmares contain an element or factor that causes anxiety to the child. The child feels that he is at risk and that he is unable to protect himself.
The nightmares of a child are normal, but if repeated frequently, it is a matter of concern. If nightmares come three times a week or more, . If the fears and nightmares of the child interfere with his daily activities such as going to school, playing with his friends and making him anxious throughout the day, it may be better for the child to go to a specialist psychiatrist so that he can identify the origin of the problem and access to treatment.
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For a child, the nightmares are real and therefore ridiculing him or because of his fear of them will complicate things more and will reduce the child’s self-confidence. Instead of ridicule the child, you have to talk to him. You have to tell the child that you are aware of his fear, but those nightmares will not hurt him, not focusing on the child’s fear, but on his strength, while explaining to the child that his feeling of fear is normal.
A mother may allow her child to sleep in the room after an annoying nightmare. This may be a short term relief, but it is best to teach the child how to face his fears. There are many things that can affect the child in the period between five and eight years of anxiety such as school or differences between parents and so it is expected that the child will have nightmares. If your child cries in the middle of the night because of a nightmare, you should go to him and work to reassure him with giving him a hug and calm him.
Allow the child to talk to you about the nightmare he has had if he wants to, not pressuring him and making him understand that there is a difference between truth and fiction but with patience if the child is still worried.
Avoid allowing your child to watch scary movies or read scary books. Also, prevent your child from watching news broadcasts that may contain violent scenes. Know that in order to help your child overcome his fears, you should try to make him go to bed at an early date and make sure the child sleeps in his room.
Know that if a child has a nightmare and cries for your room every time, you will not be his assistants at all, but you teach him how to escape his fears and face them. You can stay with the child in his room for some time after the nightmare because he will certainly not go to sleep right away, but at the same time try not to misbehave the child in an exaggerated way. You can leave the door of the child’s room open and reassure him that the house is safe.
Make sure that the child does not get enough sleep while taking care that the child does not see anything scary before going to sleep at least half an hour or an hour. You can talk to your child about the nightmare you have during the day and try to determine whether nightmares are frequent because this may mean that something is bothering your child.