Parenting Babycare Health Child Psychology and Behaviour

What Causes Nightmares In Your Child?

Akshita Iyer
3 to 7 years

Created by Akshita Iyer
Updated on Oct 14, 2018

What Causes Nightmares In Your Child
Reviewed by Expert panel

What Are Nightmares?

A nightmare or a bad dream is an unpleasant dream that can cause a strong emotional response from the mind, mostly fear but also despair, anxiety and sadness. The dream may contain situations of discomfort, psychological or physical terror or panic. If your child experiences nightmares, which is quite common in the children aged 3-6 years you need not worry because they don't cause any long-term psychological harm to your child and he would eventually grow out of it but do not completely ignore it as well.

Usually your child would remember the nightmare and would be able to describe it to you. Keep the following things in mind:

  1. Understand

    Firstly, it would require you to understand the type of nightmare that is scaring your child. If it is a one-time thing or does it have a certain pattern to it.

    The most common childhood nightmares are of scary animals, being left alone, darkness, toys coming to life, falling etc. If your child has nightmares about these things you need not worry much as it is common but if their nightmares are of a certain pattern like if it is about a particular individual or something that makes you feel that it is because of a past incident that scared your child then you might have to do something about it

  2. Take the required action

    Now if your child’s nightmares are amongst the common ones you’ll have to find out a way to make them come out of it. Suppose if they have nightmares about scary animals you can narrate them a story with something positive about those animals. This would help them overcome the fear and would stop the nightmare. But if the nightmare in your kid is relating to a certain person or a past incident, you firstly need to check the person’s behaviour around your child and then might also consider taking them for some counselling

What Causes Nightmares In Your Child?

Nightmares in children can be caused by a frightening experience, such as watching a scary film, or by something that's worrying them. Hence you should always keep in check what your child sees or hears, who is he spending time with, how is the persons behaviour around your child etc.

There are also night terrors in children but night terrors are very different from nightmares. It is a sleep disorder that causes feelings of terror.

Night Terrors vs Nightmares

The biggest difference between a night terror and a nightmare is that your child can often recall and describe a nightmare but with night terrors there is no recollection of the incident at all next morning.

Another major difference between the two is that when your child sees a nightmare your words or action can comfort them but if it’s a night terror then you can do nothing about it because even though it may look like your child is awake with eyes wide open, he/she might not respond to anything you say as they are caught in a sort of a twilight zone between being asleep and being awake and are totally unaware of your presence.

Hence, the best thing to do in case of night terrors is to wait for the storm to pass. Do not try to hold your child as it may scare them even more but just make sure they do not come in contact with something that might hurt them. Night terrors can occur due to an insufficient sleep routine or even because it runs in your family and therefore it does not mean that your child has a psychological problem or is even upset about something.

Remember, both night terrors and nightmares might scare you for your child for a little while but it shall pass with time, just make sure you observe the pattern well and take the necessary actions. Do consult with a doctor if needed.

Did you like the blog? Did you find it useful? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section below; we’d love to hear from you!

This content has been checked & validated by Doctors and Experts of the parentune Expert panel. Our panel consists of Neonatologist, Gynecologist, Peadiatrician, Nutritionist, Child Counselor, Education & Learning Expert, Physiotherapist, Learning disability Expert and Developmental Pead.

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| May 07, 2018

Hg*fcgvghhgggvb=veg cdxfh....... Gghfdcjhggd.. Gghvvbbvbbvhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhyygghhhhhgb

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| May 29, 2018

cz so pretty

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| May 29, 2018

wish you could have helped giving more tips to understand how can caregivers be helpful to handle kids in bringing certain calmness

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| Sep 25, 2018

thNx for d information!

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| Mar 06, 2019


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