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How to Help Your Child Get Over Nightmares and Get Some Rest

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Night terrors! I hate them! Seeing your child being tormented in the middle of the night is the worst feeling other than seeing them sick. Caleb experienced them off and on for about a week. As of the writing of this blog, it’s been about two weeks and we have been praying we’ve seen the last of it.

Kids experience nightmares all of the time. The dream may contain situations of discomfort, psychological or physical terror or panic. The night terrors Caleb was having were horrible. He would be still asleep but would scream out and was inconsolable. At first, we didn’t know whether or not to wake him up so we just prayed and held him close so until he would calm down. The experienced lasted only for about 5 minutes but felt like it was much longer.

Caleb has an active imagination so we wanted to make sure we created an environment where he felt safe. This mean that we watch what is on the TV and we try not to watch a lot of dramas in the evenings around him. My husband loves Walking Dead. I asked him to make sure Caleb is not around when that is on. I’ve almost shut down most of my television time watching mostly shows Caleb watches and waiting until he goes to sleep to watch the news. I’ve found I sleep better when I’ve not watched any television.

We’ve also decided to adopt some additional habits to help Caleb sleep better at night. They include:

1. A warm bath: Each night at 7:30p, I am running Caleb’s bath water. Having your child take a bath before sleeping will help their body to unwind. The warm water also makes your child’s temperature rise artificially. The contrast between the bath time temperature and the temperature of the room can help induce sleep. With consistency of this activity, Caleb now knows that we are preparing for bed once we take a bath.

2. Create a cozy sleeping atmosphere: Make sure your child has enough blankets and pillows to feel warm, protected, and comfortable. Close the windows and curtains if possible. Caleb has Mickey, Donald and Goofy stuffed toys that he carries everywhere even to bed.

3. Help your child connect with a security object: Whether a blanket or a stuffed animal, having an object that makes your child feel safe is important. As I just mentioned, Caleb prefers his Disney friends.

4. Read happy stories: Before your child goes to sleep, read a few children’s books. This will help them become calm. Focus on creating a mood of happiness prior to sleep but not too much excitement. My husband makes this mistake all the time. He and Caleb love rough and tumble time. They wrestle, run around the house, and play hide and seek, often before bedtime. As a result, Caleb is so excited, the last thing he wants to do is go to bed.

5. Say prayers: Bedtime prayers are always the best way to end the day before sleeping. This is a good way to start helping your child develop his or her faith. I also believe it is a good way to find out if something is troubling your child so you can talk it over with them and pray with them.

6. Put on a night light: I slept with a nightlight for most of my childhood. Even now, I like a small light in the room. If I wake up at night, I never want it to be completely dark. One thing that Caleb and Nate imagine they are doing is laying on the floor and looking up at the stars. So the night light that shows the stars on the ceiling is a big hit. The circling on the ceiling will also help your child relax and go to sleep.

7. Have a regular bedtime and wake-up time for your child: This is very hard for us right now as Caleb is in a stage where we doesn’t want to go to bed. It is literally a two hour process – from bath time to completely asleep. However, having a sleep routine does help slow him down, and feel safe and secure as he eventually drifts off to sleep.

8. Soothe your child: Caleb loves to cuddle.  He is in the stage now where he is a daddy’s boy but at night, he’s all about mommy and he wants me to hold him close. So when he does experience these night terrors, I hold him close, walk around the room and let me know that mommy is here and he is safe with me. He typically grabs me back tight and goes back to sleep.

Although kids having nightmares are totally normal, I believe we can help our children not be tormented by them. In our home, we believe in the power of prayer so when we started praying against these nightmares, Caleb stopped having them.  The best thing any parent can do is to take all these necessary steps to ensure that our children get over nightmares and have peaceful sleep.

Tags : bad dreamsnight terrorsnightmarespeaceful sleeprestful nightsleepsweet sleep
Kesha Holloway

The author Kesha Holloway

Kesha Holloway is the founder of Living in Your Sweet Spot. She is passionate about being a wife and mother and desires to align herself with women equally passionate about their families. She believes the woman is the backbone of the family unit and it's her mission to help lift women to achieve their purpose.

38 Comments

  1. Very good advice. Mine are already grown, but it is the worst when you can’t stop your child from being scared or hurt. I am glad that his night terrors have subsided.

    1. Yes!!! My son’s teacher recommended this and we started doing it immediately. They play Baby Einstein music during nap time and we’ve now adopted this practice and it is working wonderfully!

  2. Aww, poor baby. I don’t have kids yet so I can’t relate, but I imagine it’s the worst feeling being unable to help your child.

  3. Great tips here! We have a 3 year old and have had some similar “night terror” experiences. Thankfully our guy is okay about going to bed (most of the time!) but he is transitioning to no nap during the day so sometimes he’s overtired if something exciting was going on, which seems to contribute to night waking/bad dreams.

    1. I have noticed that if he doesn’t take a nap during the day, he is extremely tired. I never thought this could contribute to the night terrors. I will pay attention to this pattern and see if it could be related for our son. Thanks for the tip!

  4. My son had horrible night terrors for about a year and then they just went away the same way they started. It was all very strange.

    1. That’s wonderful Laura! Caleb just had another one last night :(. It’s been about a month now so I’m hoping that one was the last one.

  5. Good sound advice for parents of kids that are having the same issue. Thankfully they have stopped. A security object was so helpful for my daughter. She relied on her “my little pony” stuffed animal for years and she still has it.

  6. Great tips! My daughter used to get night terrors all the time and we were able to figure out they were triggered by lack of sleep or illness. We learned to keep a consistent sleep schedule and make sure she felt comfortable when she was sick and that helped cut them down drastically.

    1. I kept hearing that lack of sleep may trigger them. We are trying to be more consistent with him. Even if he doesn’t get a nap during the day, we try to make sure he is in the bed the same time every night.

  7. What a great post! Is your little one old enough to tell you when he has night terrors? How do you know when he does? Great suggestions.

    1. No, Caleb is only 2 1/2. When he is experiencing them, he doesn’t wake up. His eyes are still closed and he is screaming and inconsolable. We don’t ever wake him up. It’s like not waking up a person who is sleep walking. We comfort him and pray and tell him that mommy and daddy are here and it’s okay. I rub his back and rock him back to a more sound, peaceful sleep.

  8. This looks like you really put thought into compiling this list, and your little boy is fortunate for that. I hope that the nightmares stop and that he gets to where he can sleep in peace with your comforting and care.

  9. This is so hard to watch your little one go through! We experienced a brief time of night terrors as you describe, but thankfully they did not last long. Sometimes there is nothing you can do, but cuddle time is so, so important 🙂

  10. A few months ago my daughter went through night terrors and it was the worst three days. She was legit scared of something and that started to scare me. We limited tv time. Kids imaginations are so creative we really have to monitor hthe at they are. It’s gotten better and having a night light and telling stories before bed helped a lot.

    1. Yes, the first thing to think about is what they are watching. Even if you think it is something they are not paying attention too. They have such vivid imaginations. I’m so glad your daughter has stopped experiencing them.

  11. Wonderful ideas! I like that you included faith. I always tell my son that he can pray and ask for help in overcoming his fears, and that God will be there for him! He feels comforted by that.

    1. That’s wonderful! As my son gets older and starts understanding spiritual things, I hope he feels the same way.

  12. yes! A bedtime routine is essential to good sleep, for all of us right? And let me say, Kesha, I love the Batman jimmies. So adorable.

  13. These are great tips! And I think even as adults we can benefit from your tips and calming routines. I know when I went through a period of high stress in my life, I made sure to watch only happy shows before bed and play calm soothing music. It really helped me to fall asleep faster and stay away from scary thoughts before and during sleep!

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