What is Scared in bed and nightmares?
The term ‘fright in bed’ here means that children are frightened at night. It often expresses itself in the form of night fright and / or nightmares. It occurs in children from around eighteen months. Being afraid in bed is particularly common among young toddlers; Nightmares are usually seen in children between two and six years old.
Symptoms scared in bed
You can clearly recognize night fright and nightmares in a child.
Night fright With night fright, a child suddenly becomes very anxious at night. This usually occurs late in the evening or early in the night. Your child has all the physical characteristics of anxiety. His breathing and heartbeat are accelerated and he perspires violently. Often a child with night fright is sitting upright in bed and is looking forward with big frightened eyes. The child cries, shouts or talks gibberish. Attempts to comfort your child often fail. Your child does not seem to be really awake. Within half an hour the anxiety attack is over and he sleeps quietly again. The next day he cannot remember the fear attack.
Nightmares Nightmares usually occur later in the night. The child suddenly wakes up and is scared. Breathing and heartbeat can be accelerated and your child can perspire. If your child has had nightmares, he can often be comforted. He is awake and can retell the dream. The next day many children still remember the nightmare.
Is it serious and what can you expect?
Most likely your child will naturally grow over the night fright or the nightmares. Nocturnal fears usually disappeared around the age of five or earlier. The occurrence of nightmares usually disappears around the sixth birthday.
When to the doctor?
If you are unable to reduce your child’s nocturnal anxiety or nightmares, you can consult with the staff of the childcare center. For example, during a home visit, the nurse can check with you whether there are reasons for your child’s fear.
What can you do about it yourself?
When your child is scared at night, your help is important to calm down again. Therefore go to your child and try to comfort him. This is sometimes difficult with night fright, because you cannot really reach your child. Many children find it soothing if, for example, you hold him in your arms, gently rock back and forth or quietly sing a song. Caressing and massaging sometimes have a calming effect. You can also sit in a warm bath with your child. Classical music can sometimes have a calming effect.
When your child has had a nightmare, comforting becomes easier. It is good to hold your child and reassure him by letting him tell and talk to him softly. It is better not to comment on the content of the dream, rather to talk about something nice. If your child is very busy with the dream, then you can dispel the dream together. Throw the subject of the dream together out of the window, or say a spell that drives away the dream. You can also choose a hug that will ensure that no scary dreams can come close to your child.
General advice and precautions
There are a number of things you can do to help prevent nighttime anxiety and / or nightmares.
Allowing your child to fall asleep Try to put your child to sleep with a safe and calm feeling. For example, leave a light on on the landing or hang a night light in the room. When your child is in bed, read a quiet story. Then you can sit down with your child and go through the day together again. Certainly when your child has experienced exciting or radical things that day, he will like this. For example, a fight with one of his immediate caregivers can be very threatening for a child.
When you have left your child’s room, stay on the same floor. If your child hears that you are in the area, he can often relax better. It is good to follow the same ritual every evening, this gives your child safety and peace.
Pay attention to anxiety during the day Teaching your child to deal with anxiety during the day will make him less afraid at night. Talk about it together, read a book about it or play a game together. For example, if your child is afraid of noises in the house at night, go and have a look together during the day.
Which things in the house make noise and how does that sound? If your child always dreams about dogs, teach your child to deal with dogs during the day. Visit someone with a dog and let your child get acquainted.
Calm and clear daily routine Don’t make the days too busy for your child; a fixed structure gives children peace. They can then see what is going to happen. So plan the days as much as possible according to the same pattern. Eat at the same times as often as possible and let your child sleep around the same time every day.