Marion Bilich, PhD, on Sleep Problems

What can I do to help my child deal with nightmares?

Question

My 6-year-old child is having more nightmares than usual lately. She's afraid to sleep in her own bed and has been in our bed four nights in a row. What can I do to help her?

    Answer

    In times of stress, many children will have sleep problems -- even children who never did so before. Your child needs extra love and assurance of her safety. How you provide that extra love and assurance depends on what you and your partner agree is best for your child, according to your own beliefs.

    If you don't feel comfortable allowing your child to sleep in the bed with you, see if you can find other ways to make her feel safe at night. Perhaps a night light in her room would help. Or you could lie down with her for a time in her own bed. Tell a story, sing a song. When my own child was small and working on staying in her bed all night, I used to tell her that she had "calling privileges." This meant that any time she woke up at night, she could call me and I would always come into her room. That made her feel very safe.

    The information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your child's condition.