My 6-year-old daughter has been having nightmares, and often asks to come sleep in my bed. Is that OK?
Nightmares are very common for kids so it's important to keep them in perspective and not let them become too big of a deal. A little comfort from you can go a long way toward helping your daughter feel better.
It's not necessary to let her come sleep in your bed or for you to sleep in her room after a nightmare. In fact, offering to let her sleep with you might send a subtle message that you don't believe she can feel safe alone. By helping her feel better and get back to sleep independently, you show confidence in her ability to tackle what she's afraid of. And that's a skill that she can lean on throughout life.
Other ways to make a child feel better after a nightmare:
- Reassure your child that you're there.
- Convey that it was just a scary dream, now it's over, and everything is OK.
- Show that you understand that your child feels afraid and that it's OK.
- Help your child feel safe. You may need to check under the bed for monsters. For older kids, providing a nightlight or a flashlight might do the trick.
- Help your child get back to sleep by talking quietly, offering something comforting like a favorite blanket or stuffed animal, and maybe talk about the pleasant dreams your child would like to have.
Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: October 2010
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