At this stage, while your child is rapidly growing mentally as well as physically, some wicked nightmares can still bug him at nights during his sleep. When your child was younger, nightmares were only a once-in-a-while occurrence but you must have noticed that over the years the frequency has increased. Nightmares are most common in children in the age group of 5-8 years.
What you need to know
Most nightmares usually occur in the second half of the night when dreaming is more common. Your child will wake up crying and will have trouble getting back to sleep. Some children even remember the dream the next day and may feel bothered by it.
Nightmares in this age group are because of their expanding cognitive abilities. They have started understanding real-life perils, like accidents, injury, violence, death etc and these have started affecting the child’s emotional state. A scary story, a movie or a picture can trigger the nightmare. Even if the child is anxious and stressed during the day or over excited before going to bed, a nightmare episode can happen.
What you can do
Children who wake up in the middle of the night because of a nightmare and start crying, can go back to sleep only when they calm down. Their parents’ physical presence, hugs and reassurance can help soothe the child. It is better not to get the children to your bed because it will then become a habit.
Let the child tell you about the nightmare and you can then reassure them that it is just a dream. However do remember not to laugh it off because for the child the fear is real.