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Child Having Nightmares after Starting School

parent helping child with nightmare

Ghosts, spooky sounds, mysterious shadows, and of course, monsters under the bed – almost all toddlers and young kids go through some fearful experiences at night that leads to nightmares. 

But some kids sleep well through their early years, and only start to have nightmares when they begin school. This can be alarming for parents, as you may fear your child is being bullied or stressed at school which is disturbing their sleep. 

Usually, nightmares at school age are not caused by any problem at school, but of course, talk to your child and the school to make sure there are no problems. 

Children are more likely than adults to have nightmares. The primary explanation is that children’s brains have not yet fully grown. Some brain areas are more developed than others, resulting in a mix of fiction and reality.

What exactly is a nightmare?

A nightmare is a traumatic dream that causes unpleasant emotions like anxiety or panic and wakes you up. Though more common in kids, nightmares can strike anyone at any stage in life. 

They are described as a dream that incorporates intense negative emotions such as fear, disgust, grief, or wrath, and typically wakens the sleeper.

Young children are likely to have nightmares in a similar way.

Nightmares typically torment us 90 minutes after we fall asleep. The body remains practically immobile during this sleep phase, often known as REM (rapid eye movement) sleep or the dream phase, while the brain is quite busy. Blood pressure and respiratory rate both rise.

The most thrilling dreams occur right before waking up. That’s why, if you awoke in the middle of a dream, you may typically recall it in the morning.

How do kids get nightmares?

Approximately 5% of children have nightmares at least once a week. Children between the ages of two and five are the most likely to experience nightmares, but as I said, they can hit anyone, at any age.

Young children can awaken from a bad dream dazed, crying for rescue. Nightmares appear to them as a reflection of reality and hence remain frightening even after they awaken.

Most nightmares are caused by children coping with daily events and life changes, such as starting school. Nightmares appearing as children start school does not always mean they’re having problems at school, but you should always talk to your child and their teacher if you suspect any issues. 

Nightmares can be so intense and frightening that youngsters are terrified of falling asleep, and this lack of sleep can have a negative impact on their learning. They are terrified that the terrible figures from their nightmare would reappear. 

What factors contribute to nightmares?

The source of nightmares is not always known. They can, however, provide signals for circumstances in ordinary life that the child is unable to handle.

Consider the source of your child’s nightmares. Tensions and tensions in the family or school weigh heavily on the spirits of young children, so make sure you have good communication with your child, and make them feel safe and secure.

Bad dreams are normally harmless and disappear on their own. However, if your child has nightmares at least once a week, you should seek expert advice and investigate possible causes. In that scenario, you should consult with your paediatrician.

However, major factors can also induce nightmares: divorce, relocation, violence, abuse, and school bullying, etc can all traumatise a child for years. If your child has nightmares on a regular and noticeable basis, you should consult a paediatrician.

Inquire with the school teachers if there are any issues in your child’s classroom. If a child’s dreams are highly unpleasant and impair the child’s conduct and education throughout the day, it is beneficial to seek professional help for a doctor.

What can I do to help with a nightmare?

Many kids are terrified of the dark. It is frequently beneficial to leave a nightlight on in the children’s room.

It is sometimes a good idea for youngsters to have a constant companion at night. Teddy bears can be excellent nighttime companions.

Evening traditions such as bedtime stories are beneficial. Children want a relaxing secure finish to the day that provides them with security. As a result, nightmares become less common.

Allow them to tell you what happened at school that day before you put your child to bed. Problems can thus be handled before going to sleep rather than being processed in a dream.

Also, make sure your child does not watch too much television. Television should be avoided in the final hour before going to bed.

If your child crawls into your bed at night due to a nightmare, you should encourage and protect them. Always take your child seriously. Ask inquiries like, “What did the monster look like?” but refrain from speculating about the dream.

Assure your child that nothing sinister is lurking in the room. Children under the age of six cannot distinguish between dreams and reality. Explain to older children that the monsters do not exist.