A nightmare is a dream that causes the sleeper to be frightened in some way. Common nightmares can be about falling, being in a dangerous situation, monsters, or even death. These dreams can be linked to physical causes such as a high fever or sleeping face down on the pillow (drowning nightmare), or it can be brought on by stressful events in the sleepers life. Children may have nightmares if they are exposed to something scary before bedtime, like something on television. Eating before bedtime can also trigger nightmares. Occasional nightmares are common but recurrent nightmares require medical attention.
Many children wake up with nightmares. Nightmares usually begin when children enter the pre-school age when their imaginations grow. If your preschooler is having frequent nightmares you might want to keep her away from anything scary before bedtime such as frightening images on television, or pretend monster games.
What is the difference between nightmares and night terrors? If your child is having night terrors this is easy to spot. She will still be asleep even though she might be crying or making a fuss. You can't calm down a child while they are having the night terror. Night terrors as apposed to nightmares are not scary for children because they are not aware that they are having them.
Child development experts believe that the best way to control nightmares is through talking to your child about his dreams. They suggest that you wait until your child initiates the conversation. Then you can ask him about his dream. If he is having a recurring nightmare you can turn the dream into a story and make up your own ending.
Childhood nightmares can cause stress for a whole family. Hopefully these tips will help and you and your spouse can enjoy a better night's sleep.