5 Tips to Avoid Nightmares in Children

Nightmares are a normal part of a child's development between the ages of 2 and 6. Today, we'll offer a series of tips to avoid nightmares in children.
5 Tips to Avoid Nightmares in Children

Last update: 29 July, 2020

Nightmares are fairly normal during a child’s development. They tend to appear around the age of 2 or 3 and are a way for children to express experiences from their lives. But just because they’re normal doesn’t mean they aren’t disturbing for little ones. In this article, we’ll see how to help avoid nightmares in children.

When children have nightmares, they may develop a fear of something specific that they’ve dreamt about. In fact, they may be afraid of sleeping altogether because they don’t want to have another nightmare. If you’re dealing with these issues at home, then the tips below will help your little one rest peacefully.

Possible causes of nightmares in children

Nightmares tend to appear during the second half of the night, during the REM sleep phase. The causes may include:

  • The lack of a regular routine
  • When children are sick or have a fever, fevers may be more frequent.
  • Not getting enough hours of sleep.
  • If children are feeling anxious or stressed about some life change – a move, a new sibling, etc – they may experience nightmares.
  • Being overly tired also makes nightmares more likely.

Tips on how to avoid nightmares in children

5 Tips to Avoid Nightmares in Children

Make sure your child’s comfortable in his or her room

To make children more comfortable, you can turn on a nightlight so their rooms aren’t so dark. Of course, don’t overdo it. At the same time, you can let little ones sleep with their favorite stuffed animal(s), which will make them feel safe and secure.

Be careful about what they watch on TV and don’t let them watch before bed

During the last hour before kids go to bed, you should try to make sure they don’t watch TV. However, whatever TV they do watch – at any time of day or night – should be free of violent or aggressive content. If children watch cartoons before bed, then make sure they’re not too bright or colorful. That’s because they may excite the brain right before bedtime.

Establish routines

It’s important to establish everyday routines because they offer security and balance. Routines allow them to know what to expect at any given moment of the day and prevent surprises. So, in this sense, children should have a set schedule for bathing, eating, brushing their teeth, and going to bed every day.

Read a story before bed

It’s very important to introduce the habit of reading an age-appropriate story before bedtime. This helps settle kids down before they go to sleep. You can also practice relaxation techniques with deep breathing, soft music, and nature sounds.

What can we do if nightmares persist despite our efforts?

  • If your child’s having a nightmare, go to his or her room, and offer comfort.
  • Use a calm and caring voice to talk to your child so that he or she won’t become even more afraid.
5 Tips to Avoid Nightmares in Children

  • Tell your child it’s all over, that it was just a nightmare, and that mom or dad is right there. Tell them a pleasant story to distract your child and help him or her forget all about the nightmare.
  • When children have nightmares, you shouldn’t bring them to your bed. If you do, they’re likely to get used to this and it will be hard to correct the situation. Rather, calm them down in their own bed until they fall back asleep.
  • If your child experiences repeated nightmares, you should talk with a pediatrician. The problem may be the result of a sleep disorder or post-traumatic stress. It may also be an indication of a psychological problem having to do with the child’s environment.

About avoiding nightmares in children

Nightmares are a normal part of child development, especially around the ages of 2 and 3. What’s more, they may persist until age 6. However, as children get older, they fade away.

Don’t hesitate to apply the above suggestion to avoid nightmares and children. And remember, if the problem doesn’t go away and your child’s having a really hard time, be sure to consult a pediatrician.


This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.