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Published Date: November 23, 2017

What should I do if my child says he or she is too scared to go to sleep?

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Children’s Dreams, Daydreams and Nightmare

The goal of this children series: To help children understand Daydreams, Nightmares and Dreams.

What’s the best way to talk with your child about his or her dreams or nightmares? Why does your child have vivid Day Dreams, dreams or nightmares? How can you help your child to stop having nightmares? What can you learn about your child through understanding her dreams?

Note: This series is intended to give you some tips on children’s dreams and nightmares.

Tips:

  • Teach coping skills. Teach your child coping skills and discuss alternative ways to respond, such as “being brave” and thinking positive thoughts. You could talk about how you deal with something that you are afraid of. Also, provide examples of coping role models by reading stories about children who are afraid and conquer their fears.
  • Have fun in the dark. Make being in the dark fun. Play flashlight tag. Have a treasure hunt and search for things that glow in the dark.
  • Use your imagination and be creative. Use your imagination to fight imaginary fears, like monsters. Many families have found “monster spray” to be a wonderful way to help a child cope with bedtime fears. Some children are comforted by having a pet nearby for nighttime company (even a bedside fish tank may help). Whenever possible, have your child be actively involved in coming up with solutions to help him gain a sense of mastery and control.
  • Security object. Help your child become attached to a security object that he can keep in bed with him. This can help your child feel more relaxed at bedtime and throughout the night.
  • Nightlight. No matter what your child seems to be afraid of, a night-light can help. Nightlights are fine as long as it does not prevent your child from falling asleep. Another thing to try is leaving the bedroom door open so that your child doesn’t feel isolated from the rest of the family.
  • Avoid scary television shows. Keep your child away from scary TV shows, videos or stories that may add to his fears.
  • Relaxation training. Teach your child relaxation strategies to help him relax at bedtime and fall asleep. For example, have your child imagine a relaxing scene, such as lying on the

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