How to help your kids when they have a nightmare

Learn about: How to help your kids when they have a nightmare from Kim West, LCSW-C,...
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How to help your kids when they have a nightmare

I believe it's important for us parents to know the difference between a nightmare and a night terror. So most of us know about a nightmare. It happens during our dreaming sleep, our REM sleep. And we or our children wake up. We have a scary dream. Our kids run into our room. Mommy Daddy. Or they cry out from their bed. I think we should go to them. Reassure them that all is well. They might have trouble going back to sleep. I find a very helpful technique with our children when they have nightmares is to help them throw the bad thought out of their head and then they've got to replace it with a new thought. Otherwise that bad dream finds its way back in there. I know I've had this happen myself. So maybe you had a bad dream that there was a tiger coming after you. And you throw that out the window. Maybe you can think about your favorite tree house, or that time we made a sand castle at the beach together. Something nicer to think about that they put in their mind instead. Nightmares they also will typically will remember them in the morning, so you could talk about it, help them process it. The other thing that's important to help reduce nightmares is to make sure your child is not playing really violent video games, watching scary shows before bedtime, even sometimes reading scary books can do that. So try to be very conscientious of that. Also too late of a bedtime can cause increased nightmares, so that's another factor. And nightmares are a normal part of childhood. They usually start around 2, and end or change what nightmares children have about 5-7 years of age.

Learn about: How to help your kids when they have a nightmare from Kim West, LCSW-C,...


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Kim West, LCSW-C

Psychotherapist & Author, The Sleep Lady's Good Night, Sleep Tight

Kim West is a mother of two and a Licensed Certified Social Worker-Clinical (LCSW-C) who has been a practicing child and family social worker for more than 19 years. Known as The Sleep Lady by her clients, over the past 12 years she has helped thousands of tired parents all over the world learn to listen to their intuition, recognize their child’s important cues and behaviors, and gently create changes that promote and preserve his or her healthy sleep habits. 

West has appeared on the Dr. Phil, Today Show, NBC Nightly News, Good Morning America, TLC’s Bringing Home Baby  and CNN, and has been written about in a number of publications including The Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, Baby Talk,  Parenting, The Baltimore Sun, USA Today, The Telegraph, The Irish Independent and the Washington Post. West hosts the sleep section of The Newborn Channel, played in maternity wards in hospitals across the country. West is the author of The Sleep Lady's Good Night, Sleep Tight: Gentle Proven Solutions to Help Your Child Sleep Well and Wake Up Happy with Joanne Kenen. She is also the author of 52 Sleep Secrets for Babies and The Good Night, Sleep Tight Workbook.

Kim received her master’s degree in Clinical Social Work from Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts. She lives with her family in Annapolis, Maryland.

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