Four-Year Touchpoint: Nightmares and monsters

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Four-Year Touchpoint: Nightmares and monsters

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At fours of age, children begin to be able to feelings about their feelings. They begin to even be able to make judgments about the feelings they are having. So a younger child can have angry, hateful, aggressive feelings but they do not necessarily have a feeling about that feeling, like for example I am bad, I feel guilty, I hurt someone else. But at four years of age, that begins to come together. So along with anger and aggression, you also see fearfulness. And underneath it, the fearfulness is about this new recognition that I have these feelings of anger, for example, and now I have these feelings about them that make me worry am I a bad boy, am I a bad girl. So this is the age when it is very common for children to develop nightmares and fears because in that nightmare or in the fear is the scary monster or the dog that is barking that the child is afraid of that the child sees as some kind of expression back to them of their own anger or that there is something bad about them. The monster or the witch or the ghost is there to punish them. And so, what we need to do as parents is to take the feelings that they have seriously, that they are so scared. Let´s look under the bed. Let´s look in the closet for the monster or the ghost. And there is a way to be clear I take your feelings seriously but I know that the fear is not based on reality. I know there is not really a witch or a ghost under the bed, but I know that you are really scared.

Watch Video: Four-Year Touchpoint: Nightmares and monsters by Joshua Sparrow, MD, ...

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Joshua Sparrow, MD

Child Psychiatrist & Author brazeltontouchpoints.org

A child psychiatrist, Dr. Sparrow’s care in the 1990s for children hospitalized for severe psychiatric disturbances, often associated with physical and sexual abuse, and for developmental delays aggravated by social and economic deprivation, prompted his interest in community-based prevention and health promotion. At the Brazelton Touchpoints Center, his work focuses on cultural adaptations of family support programs, organizational professional development, and aligning systems of care with community strengths and priorities, and has included collaborative consultation with the Harlem Children's Zone and American Indian Early Head Start Programs, among many others. He has lectured extensively nationally and internationally on related topics and has consulted on media programming for children and parents, including PBS’s Frontlines and Discovery Kids. Co-author with Dr. T. Berry Brazelton of 8 books and the weekly New York Times Syndicated column, “Families Today,” Dr. Sparrow has also served as a contributing editor to Scholastic Services’ Parent and Child magazine. In 2006, he revised with Dr. Brazelton Touchpoints: Birth to Three, 2nd Edition and in 2010, co-edited Nurturing Children and Families: Building on the Legacy of T. B. Brazelton, a textbook on the ongoing generativeness of Brazelton’s seminal research in a wide range of fields. Dr. Sparrow has authored numerous other scholarly works, teaches and lectures nationally and internationally, and is frequently called upon for his expertise by national and international media. Prior to attending medical school, Dr. Sparrow worked for several years as a preschool teacher and journalist in New York City.

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