Redditors Share all the Adorably Unique Ways They Soothe Their Kids' Nightmares

Bad dreams can be scary and disruptive for children. These Reddit parents offered advice on how to help kids cope—and get back to bed.

An image of a child sleeping.
Photo: Getty Images.

Nightmares are scary no matter your age. But they can be especially frightening for children who can't always separate those bad dreams from real life.

A seasoned parent on Reddit can empathize and wants to offer other caregivers a way to help their kids through nightmares. And TBH, it's pretty genius.

"When my children were very little (3 or 4 maybe) and woke with a nightmare, I told them that their brain gave them a scary dream to wake them up because they had to go pee and their brain didn't want them to wet the bed," wrote u/badgersister in the Parenting subreddit. "After they went pee, I told them, their brain would let them sleep now with no more scary dreams. It worked so well that they would wake from a nightmare, go to the toilet, and go back to bed without calling me."

Several commenters were grateful that the parent shared the advice.

"This is gold," wrote one person. "I'm going to try this. Thank you," said another.

Other Reddit users chimed in with their methods for soothing kids' nightmares.

Take this parent, who swapped the age-old "count sheep" advice for something more dream-related. "I have my kids try to list off 10 things they would like to dream about. It changes what they are focused on, and it's too long of a list for them to successfully complete it while tired," the user wrote.

"I have my kiddo sit up, open her eyes, and shake the nightmare out of her head," the person commented. "It wakes her up fairly solidly, so she doesn't slip back into the same dream," another parent added.

And one parent shared a sweet story about how they helped their child cope with grief-filled dreams: "When my daughter was around this age, she started having bad dreams after my gramp died. We'd arrange a dream date, and she'd fall asleep telling me what we were going to do and where we were going to go."

These are all worth considering if your child is struggling with scary dreams. Experts also shared a few other tips with Parents:

  • Validate their fears. Though it's tempting to tell your child that the dream "was just a dream" and to "go back to bed," these statements can sometimes feel dismissive. To a child, the fear is real. Instead, try something empathetic like, "I bet that was really scary. I promise you there's not a monster under your bed."
  • Put screens away. Prepare your child to head to sleep by nixing screen time at least 30 minutes before bedtime. Experts say that electronics can inhibit the body from producing melatonin, a hormone that induces sleep. And children who go to bed later are more likely to have nightmares. Try a bath or bedtime story instead.
  • Focus on something else. If nightmares are reoccurring, you may need to help your child shift their mindset. Similar to what some of the Redditors suggested, ask your child to think about something else as they're drifting off to sleep or after a nightmare. You can also help them approach the problem logically, such as by having them look under their bed to confirm there's nothing scary under there.
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