How to avoid bad dreams and nightmares

Bad dreams, nightmares and the fear of monsters under the bed represent a phase in any child’s development. They start to happen around the age of six, but they can show up early if the child is more receptive to the world around. 

As a parent, you should know that there is a progressive line to this situation: as the child grows older, he or she starts to understand the world is not a place with unicorns and fluffy toys. There are bad and scary things as well and, in an effort to cope, their imagination is working really hard. Everything starts with the fear of monsters under the bed and culminates with scary dreams that can be a common reoccurrence.  

But there are ways to help them grow without being scared to go to bed every night. Below I listed some of the most important things a parent can do to help their child in such a situation.

Be careful with the TV schedule

In our highly technologised world it’s difficult to keep kids away from the TV or YouTube, but you have to make use of the available parental software in order to filter the content your kids can see. According to recent research, 70% of the bad dreams are inspired by things the child saw on TV. And the sad part is that almost anything can trigger a nightmare: from a doll in a commercial to a bad cartoon.

Keep the Bedroom Sleep-Friendly

If possible, the kids should have a playroom that is separated from their bedroom. If this is not possible, I recommend organising the room in sections: an area for play and games, an area for clothes and other activities, and an area for sleeping.

The sleeping area must be kept clean and dark, and it should be comfy and safe. You can even create a story about the blanket they like to use, where the blanket offers safety against bad dreams and monsters.

The Bed is Important

Kids sleep like logs when they’re tired, but only if the bed is comfy. If the mattress is bothering them or if the bed frame is squeaky their sleep quality will drop and this makes space for bad dreams. A recommended resolution for suffers like this is a good mattress, that accommodates the kid’s sleeping position and offers good temperature control (a mattress that overheats during the night is also a hindrance for good sleep).

Keep in mind: any source of stress can expose the child to the risk of a nightmare! This includes being overtired, light sources in the room, or noise.

Be Understanding

Yes, it’s normal for parents to tell their kids that what they dreamed is not real. However, the dream was extremely real for the children and a simple, ‘go back to bed, it wasn’t real’ won’t do. Be understanding and ask junior to share their dream with you. Talk about what happens in the dream and try to keep the discussion at their level. A 6-year old won’t see the logic between your ‘dolls aren’t alive’ affirmation if they just saw one that was alive in their dreams.

In the end, dreams were not yet fully explained by science, but we have them regardless of age. For now we know they are a way of expressing the situations we go throughout the day, but for kids the situation can be different. They are easier to impress and something that scares them during the day, can easily creep into their dreams.




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