Response by Dr Ishita Mukerji, Senior Psychologist, Kaleidoscope, mental wellness center: It’s pretty normal for children to experience nightmares occasionally, which may be about dangers, their imaginary fears or some distressing events that they might have witnessed in the recent past. It is considered that children with intense and vivid imaginations experience such bad dreams, more often. Moreover, it might be due to any kind of stress that he has gone through, during the day.
We must understand as a parent, some younger children find it really difficult to get back to sleep after a nightmare as they often wake tearful and upset and thus, they need comforting like cuddle/ hugs etc., at such times.
How to deal with bad dreams
1. Explain to your child that dreams differ from reality. As a parent, you must soothe your child and validate his feelings immediately with reassuring him that everything is alright and he is safe
2. Listen to him patiently if your child talks about the same nightmare the next day. Be patient and do acknowledge his feelings.
3. Take a note of your child’s daily activities like interactions with other children, nature of media consumed by him online/via TV. Monitoring daytime activities can help ascertain the trigger points for his nightmares.
4. Ensure your child gets enough sleep and follows a regular schedule to eat, sleep and wake up at around the same times each day.
5. Engage him in calming activities at least half an hour before bedtime, such as playing a board game, listening to music or reading a story book etc.
6. Seek professional advice, in case your child has persistent complaints of nightmares and feels anxious during the day.
If you have a parenting query to share with us, send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org