Wednesday, November 01, 2006

How to shed light on children's nightmares

Lauri Loewenberg from TheDreamZone stopped by to discuss...

From The Orlando Sentinel

Nightmares become more common this time of year as families decorate the yard with tombstones, tune in to horror flicks and shop for costumes featuring bulging eyeballs.

And although child nightmares are generally nothing to worry about, you don't want your child haunted by dark images night after night, says dream analyst Lauri Loewenberg, author of So, What Did You Dream Last Night? (The Dream Zone, $19.95).

Children start experiencing nightmares between ages 3 and 5. "If your child starts getting nightmares, they are right on track," Loewenberg says. "The reason they start getting nightmares is because he or she is realizing that bad things can happen -- the nightmares are the way they start to process negative things in life."

Question: What do you do if your child is jolted awake from a nightmare and shows up at the foot of your bed?

Answer: The first thing you need to do is reassure your child it's just a dream -- it's not real. Then have your child tell you as much as possible about the dream. And then together, be creative. Ask your child to draw out the dream and rewrite it -- you can turn those big mean eyes into balloons. Have your child use his Harry Potter wand to turn the monster into a teddy bear.

Q: What tips do you have for parents to limit the number of nightmares?

A: Be more vigilant about what they are seeing. If a movie looks scary to you, that's something that doesn't need to be put in their psyche. Children are going to have nightmares, but you don't need to add to it unnecessarily. Also, try not to give your child any candy within two hours of going to bed, as this can affect their blood sugar and interfere with their getting a good night's rest.

Q: When do the nightmares become a concern?

A: If it's night after night or every other night for a month and you've tried talking it through and it still keeps happening, this may be an indication of an underlining issue. Is there a bully at school? Did their goldfish die?


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