Almost every day brings new experiences for young children. Some of them are pretty scary to a little person who feels kind of helpless in a big world.
Nightmares are frightening dreams that usually cause children to wake up. They generally happen closer to the morning. Children usually report that the dream was about being in danger.
Nightmares generally happen because your child is feeling worried about something or are having difficulty with a friend of a family situation. Seeing a scary movie can do it too. Experts think that nightmares may result from children trying to work through all of these experiences and fears while asleep.
Nightmares seem to happen most often between the ages of two and six. For example, a lot of 2 year olds seem to be afraid that mom or dad will leave them, and a lot of 3 year olds develop fears of monsters or animals. Of course, real-life things can cause nightmares too. Things like seeing their parents argue, starting daycare or seeing a scary television show or movie. Basically, anything that a child finds upsetting may cause them to have nightmares.
If the nightmares occur frequently, your child may become quite fearful of going to bed and have difficulty falling asleep. Your child may also want to sleep in your bed. They may not even want to go on a sleepover, for fear of having a nightmare in front of friends. And if your child is getting less sleep than needed, they may be irritable or moody. You will also probably suffer a lack of sleep, because you are being woken by your child.
If your child is losing a lot of sleep, or beginning to avoid sleeping or any other activities they used to enjoy, consult your child’s doctor about any possible medical reasons for the nightmares.