Nightmares are most common in 2 to 5 year olds. The reason why? This age group has a vivid imagination and it is often hard for them to distinguish between make believe and reality.
Nightmares occur during REM or light sleep, typically in the middle of the night or early morning hours. When your child suddenly awakens they are often confused, tired, but scared. They often dream about monsters or "bad guys" being in their room.
Nightmares occur more frequently when a child is overtired, has had a change in their schedule or may be experiencing anxiety due to a new school, new sibling or a divorce in the family.
The best way to treat nightmares is to be pro-active. Put a night light in your child's room. Make a "dream box" with a flashlight, a magic wand and monster dust to get rid of the scary dreams. Hang a dream catcher above their bed.
Be creative and reassure your child there are no monsters or ghosts in their room. Stick to a good sleep routine each night. I assure you, this is yet another phase of childhood.
I'm Dr. Sue with TKD helping parents take charge.