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Nightmares, Night Terrors and Nighttime Fears

What to do when things go bump in the night

by: Elizabeth Pantley

In This Article


f your child’s sleep is disrupted by nightmares and fear, it can affect her mood, behavior, health, memory and growth. Here’s what you can do to solve these common childhood sleep disrupters:


Children spend more time dreaming than adults do, so they have more dreams–both good and bad. After a nightmare, saying “It was just a dream” doesn’t explain what they experienced–after all, most kids believe that the tooth fairy and Big Bird are real, too. After a nightmare, offer comfort just as you would for a tangible fear. If your child wakes with a nightmare:

  • Stay with her until she feels relaxed and ready to go to sleep, or if she’s reluctant to have you leave, stay with her until she is actually sleeping.
  • Be calm and convey that what’s happening is normal and that all is well.
  • Reassure your child that she’s safe and that it’s okay to go back to sleep.         
Night terrors   >>