My five-year-old seems to be having a lot of nightmares lately. Is this normal?
Parents should encourage children to tell them about the content of their dreams. By listening for recurring themes, parents can often find out what is bothering their child. These themes are often fairly transparent and can give you an indication as to what your child may be worried or concerned about. Then you can address these real-life issues and help your child cope with them. Discussing the content of the dreams will also give you the opportunity to help your child differentiate between reality and fantasy, and between real fears and imaginary fears.
You can also help your child cope with nightmares by offering reassurance and comfort. While all nightmares cause some anxiety, the anxiety can be minimized by helping your child understand that nightmares are just our nighttime thoughts. They are not real and they cannot hurt us.
Anxiety around bedtime can be decreased by letting your child comfort himself with a favorite object or night-light, or by leaving the bedroom door open. Reading a soothing or funny book or listening to music before bedtime can also help distract and calm children right before they go to bed.