Nightmares and bad dreams are unfortunately so common for both adults and kids. I had lots of bad dreams when I was little and I still have the occasional anxiety work related nightmare every once in a while. Unfortunately, there are some nights when R calls to us in the middle of the night because of a bad dream. To help him get rid of nightmares for good, we’ve come up with a few helpful suggestions.
Simple ways to Help Your Child Get Rid of Nightmares Tonight
Talk it Out
My first suggestion to help your child get rid of her bad dreams is to talk to her about it. What are the nightmares about? Is there something specific that’s bothering her or making her uncomfortable? Did something happen during the day that caused her bad dream?
Sometimes just talking about what’s bothering her and trying to work through it together can help alleviate bad dreams and negative feelings. I’m not a mental health professional, but I’ve found that acknowledging the feelings and then trying to help solve them works much better than just dismissing how your child is feeling. No one, including kids, likes to feel as though their feelings are being dismissed.
For example, if your child is scared of a big spider in her closet, don’t just dismiss the fear. Instead of just saying “that’s impossible, there’s no spider in your closet” acknowledge that having a big spider in your closet would be scary and then make her feel better by checking the closet and letting her know that there aren’t any spiders in there.
As a part of this strategy to get rid of nightmares, if your child needs a visual or something to concentrate on aside from her bad dreams, invite her to think about putting the negative feelings on a cloud, acknowledging that they exist and then watching them float away. My mom would always tell me to visualize these clouds floating away whenever I was overwhelmed with negative thoughts. I even follow this strategy sometimes when I’m having anxious thoughts and I find it helpful.
For the Little Ones Create Dream Spray
When R was having more frequent bad dreams I found this idea on Pinterest and created our own version. The dream spray is simply water and a few drops of lavender essential oils. Combine the two ingredients and put them in a small spray bottle with a “dream spray” tag on it. Before bed, spray a couple of sprays of the dream spray in your child’s room and tell her it will help her sleep. The lavender has a soothing fragrance and will help her relax before bed.
It’s so simple but it works. I’m not 100% sure why R falls for this every time, but he does!
Hang up a Dream Catcher
When I was small and had bad dreams my parents bought me a dream catcher. According to Wikipedia, dream catchers originated in the Ojibwe culture. Parents would hang a dream catcher above an infant’s crib as a protective charm to snare nightmares.
They are traditionally made out of a willow hoop with woven string in the pattern of a spider’s web. There are often beads or feathers either included in the web or attached to the hoop.
We bought one for R on a recent trip to a pioneer museum. I was always told that if you hang it up, then the web will catch the dreams before they come to you. If you’re not sure where to buy one, you can always create an activity out of it and make one with your child.
The last time we were in Hawaii one of the artisans that did activities at our hotel made R a Hawaiian version for him and told us to hang it on the doorknob in his room.
It’s made out of thick waxy leaves that the Hawaiian artisan twisted into this necklace. We’ve kept it on R’s door since we arrived home.
What is your best tried and true strategy to help get rid of nightmares for good? Please share your insight in the comments I’m always looking for new ideas.