What can I do if my child has nightmares?

We all have nightmares from time to time, but they can be very upsetting for children.

Help them feel safe by acknowledging and comforting their fears.

    Dad looking at baby in cot

    What are nightmares?

    Nightmares typically start between the ages of three and six. They happen during deep sleep, usually in the early hours. Unlike night terrors, children can remember nightmares (or remember feeling afraid) after waking.

    Things you can do

    • Show and tell them that you understand how scared or upset they feel.
    • Tell a soothing bedtime story, or sing some favourite songs or rhymes together.
    • Encourage your child to cuddle a favourite soft toy.
    • Gentle touch can be comforting, depending on the nightmare they had. Ask your child if a gentle massage would make them feel better. Try stroking down your child’s arm from shoulder to hand, stroking the face or making circles on their back.
    • Ask them to tell you about the best part of their day, or something that made them laugh.
    • Try using mindfulness activities to soothe your child after they’ve woken up.
    Go back

    What can I do if my child has night terrors?

    Read

    How can I help when my child feels anxious?

    Read

    Activity: use mindfulness to soothe nightmares

    Read

    Activity: getting back to sleep after waking

    Read

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