My Kids Get Bad Dreams Too
I've got three kids, that means sometimes I have to get up in the night.
Sometimes my seven year old will say, "I can't find my pillow" and I reach over and hand him his pillow.
Sometimes my six year old will say, "I have to pee but can't find the door" and I show him to the bathroom.
But sometimes the fix is a bit more involved. My two year old might say, "there's bears coming" or one of my boys will tell me they had a bad dream even before they've fallen asleep for the night. Either way, I go through the following sequence to help them settle as quickly as possible without ignoring how they feel and it works, time and time again!
1) Identify how she feels: "Are you scared?"
2) Acknowledge her feelings: "It's okay to be scared."
3) Reassure her: "It's no fun to get bad dreams; sometimes I get them too. It's normal."
4) Offer a hug or a tissue or a sip of water but beware the slippery slope this can become.
5) Anchor her in reality: With my daughter it's been bears lately so I explain that the bears are sleeping in the mountains and we are safe in our house and mama and daddy are nearby.
6) Remind her that it.'s time to sleep: say what you say at bedtime or simply say, "It's time to sleep."
7) Redirect her thoughts to good memories, fun ideas, or peaceful images: "camping last summer", "blowing bubbles in the garden", anything - it's literally choose your own adventure!
If bad dreams seem to be happening every night be sure your child is getting enough one-on-one time during the day (15 minutes with at least one parent each day) and consider drawing or writing a Dream List for your child to post next to her bed to have good dreams at her fingertips at bedtime.
Lastly, you can make a Sweet Dreams Spray (aka: Monster Spray) and here's a simple recipe to make it yourself.
***Note: Bad dreams and night terrors are not the same thing. Unsure which is afflicting your child? Both can be improved, drop me a line.