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How to Help Kids with Nightmares

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Though you cannot entirely stop your child from having nightmares, there are some immediate responses and preventative measures you can take to help your child get a good night’s rest. 

“Mommy! I had a bad dream.”

Your heart aches for your child as they recover from another nightmare. You crawl out of your bed and walk to your child’s room. You wish you could take away their nightmares, but unfortunately we can’t control our children’s imaginations. These bad dreams often leave us wondering how to help kids with nightmares.

Though you cannot entirely stop your toddler or young child from having nightmares, there are some immediate responses and preventative measures you can take to help your child get a good night’s rest. 

Immediate Responses to Your Kid Having Nightmares

There are two aspects to your child having nightmares: the before and the after. While your child’s nightmares might seem overwhelming, you can learn how to calm your child after a nightmare and how to create an environment where your child’s nightmares would become less frequent.

Here are some simple ways to help your child after they have a nightmare.

Listen

Your toddler or child has experienced a nightmare. Whether your child’s nightmares are full of fantastical monsters or more realistic fears of the world, listening to your child is key. 

  • Ask them questions so they know you are actively listening. 
  • Allow them to explain their fears; be cautious about dwelling on the subject for too long. 
  • Advise them to wait until the morning to divulge the rest of the dream. You want them to talk the dream out, but not at the expense of them not being able to fall back asleep.

Reassure

After discussing the nightmare, take time to reassure your child. When doing this, try to avoid the tendency to say it’s “only a dream.” Although pure in thought, it can seem like you are brushing off their nightmare. There are a couple different ways in which you can reassure your child of their safety.

  • Turn the lights on and walk through the room with them to show they are safe. Check under the bed and in the closet.  Encourage them to look with you so they can see their surrounding environment.
  • Give your child a reassuring hug. Though you want them to be able to cope on their own in the future, stay with them for a little while until they feel confident enough to fall back asleep.
  • Pray over your child as they try to go back to sleep. We know the Lord is bigger than our fears and praying for your child is a powerful thing. Below, is a guided prayer for times when your child experiences a nightmare.

A Prayer to Help with Nightmares

“Lord, please be with __________ as they go back to bed. Father, I pray they would feel your presence and that they’d be comforted by your arms. Give them a spirit of peace and power as they fall back asleep. Ease their minds and help them to know they are safe. Please help them to get rest and to dream good things. We praise you Father for being our protector.

In Jesus Name,

Amen”

Preventative Measures to Help Kids with Nightmares

Encouraging your toddler or child the moment after a nightmare is important, but so is their ability to cope with nightmares on their own. Here are a couple of ways to help your child cope with future nightmares. 

Coping Strategies

Monster Repellant

Give your child fun solutions to overcome their fears. If they have nightmares about monsters, an example of this is giving them a spray bottle with water and telling them it is “Monster Repellant.” Let them keep the Monster Repellant  in their room so they can use it to ward off “monsters.”

Think Good Thoughts

Though nightmares can come without warning, help your child learn to change the narrative of any scary dream. Tell them they can change the path of the dream by thinking good things before bed. If a bad dream still comes, this strategy will give them the tools to calm themselves down and repaint the dream in their mind. 

Prayer

The most important thing you can do to help your child cope is prayer. Teaching your child how to pray shows them how to turn to the Father in the midst of fear. Beyond praying about your toddler or child’s nightmares, there is a larger opportunity to show your child how to talk to God regularly

Final Thoughts on How to Help with Kids Nightmares

Whether your child is a toddler or a teen, having some strategies to face bad dreams can be beneficial for any family. Be aware of healthy bedtime routines. Set a bedtime routine that allows for your kids to create good sleep habits.  A lack of restful sleep can play into the frequency of nightmares. 

Consider appropriate boundaries for technology during the day, but especially at night. Sadly certain images from movies, games, and even the news can become the source of bad dreams. Examine what your child is watching in order to prevent nightmares.

Finally, share bible verses about nightmares with your child. Encourage your child with the Word of God before they go to sleep. 

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Your Teen Needs You Most of All

No parent of teens is perfect and even the best can learn how to better connect with their son or daughter. Get practical action steps to better connect with your teenager in 8 Essential Tips for Parenting Your Teen in this FREE video series!

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.
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Understand How to Respect and Love your Son Well

Why doesn’t my son listen to me? Have you ever asked that question? The truth is, how you see your son and talk to him has a significant effect on how he thinks and acts. That’s why we want to help you. In fact, we’ve created a free five-part video series called “Recognizing Your Son’s Need for Respect” that will help you understand how showing respect, rather than shaming and badgering, will serve to motivate and guide your son.

Reconnected: The Digital Experience

Is the love there, but not the spark? Reawaken fun in your marriage and move from roommates to soulmates again with the help of this 7-part online video experience. Learn how to connect emotionally and spiritually as husband and wife using techniques such as dreaming together and establishing deep, heartfelt communication. The Digital Experience includes 7 teaching videos, an online study guide and access to additional tools and resources to help spouses reconnect.

Next Steps: Marriage Assessment

We want your marriage to be thriving and healthy. Take the free Marriage Assessment from Focus on the Family to learn how to strengthen your bond with your spouse and get the tools to help you need to grow closer together. 

Next Steps: Fruit of the Spirit Devotionals for Couples

The Fruit of the Spirit Devotional is a free series of nine short videos to get you into God’s Word and inspire you to seek the Holy Spirit’s help in loving your spouse.

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cherish front cover

Friends, Partners, and Lovers: What It Takes to Make Your Marriage Work

“Most marriages survive by gritting teeth and holding on. But marriages can and will not only survive but thrive when husbands and wives learn to cherish one another.” Those are the powerful words of bestselling author Gary Thomas in his newest book–Cherish. And in a world desperate for marriage redemption, it is needed now more than ever. Thomas shows that although there are a countless number of marriages consisting of two people just going through the motions, there are real ways this pattern can be reversed: when husbands and wives learn to cherish one another in proven, loving, and everyday actions and words.

Sharing Your Faith with Grace and Purpose

You can confidently and lovingly share your faith—you just need to learn some new tactics to do so! In this Focus on the Family Daily Broadcast, apologist Greg Koukl outlines the “Columbo” tactic of asking questions, the “self-defeating argument” tactic to find holes in your opponent’s arguments, and other specific methods for engaging in faith-building conversations with others. Greg pulls from his over 30 years of experience debating atheists and agnostics to help you share your faith with grace and truth.

Mr. Greg Koukl

Greg Koukl is a writer, public speaker and talk show host who’s spent 30 years advocating for and defending the Christian worldview. Greg has written or contributed to 15 books, including The Story of RealityTactics, and Precious Unborn Human Persons. Greg has published nearly 230 articles and has spoken on 80 college and university campuses in the U.S. and abroad.

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Tactics, 10th Anniversary Edition: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions

In a world increasingly indifferent to Christian truth, followers of Christ need to be equipped to communicate with those who do not speak their language or accept their source of authority. In Tactics, 10th Anniversary Edition, Gregory Koukl demonstrates how to artfully regain control of conversations, keeping them moving forward in constructive ways through thoughtful diplomacy. You’ll learn how to stop challengers in their tracks and how to turn the tables on questions or provocative statements. Most important, you’ll learn how to get people thinking about Jesus.