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  • Writer's pictureSamantha Badrock

How to help a child cope with Nightmares

Did you know that children are more susceptible to the trauma of dreams?

Particularly young children may struggle to separate reality from the dreamstate which can be confusing and distressing. Nightmares can make children too scared to go to sleep, which may lead to sleeping disturbances at night and behaviour problems during the day.

If we, as parents can meet children at their level, we can help them work through this tricky time. and resolve confusion.

***Please Note: We should remember to avoid dismissing their fears or telling them 'it's just not real'. It's like if someone came up to you whilst you were sitting on a chair and they told you the chair wasn't real. You would argue to the nail that the chair was there - because it is real to you. Just as the chair is real to you- the nightmares are real to them so a careful and empathetic approach is required to help your child feel heard and validated.

we ask the child to first talk about their dream.

After the child has shared their dream we then ask them to draw what they have told

us. This activity is recommended for children suffering from nightmares. Let’s start!

1) Set up an art space for your child that is warm and inviting. Place into the space a sheet of A4 paper and coloured pens (or any other artistic medium you want to use for this activity).

3) Explain to your child that everything you chat about won't be shared with anyone else.

5) Let your child describe their dreams in their terms. Listen patiently.

6) Ask your child if they would like to draw about their dream. Now present them with the sheet of A4 paper and coloured pens.

7) Observe your child drawing and try to also identify any themes. When they have completed their picture, ask them what they think of their picture. It is in this conversation they may share their thoughts and feelings in response to their dream, you will also get a better idea of what was triggering about their dream.

Remember if they do not want talk about their dream, then that's okay. Don't force the issue. Instead, encourage your child to paint and draw in their little art space. Creating a safe space for your child to express themselves is an important stepping stone to verbalising their fears.

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