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Nightmares





Why do we dream in the first place? Dreams help the mind process complicated information and events from our daily lives. Nightmares are scary dreams that awaken a child from sleep. Occasional bad dreams are normal at all ages. Since people average four dreams a night, they can’t all be good ones. Nightmares are a fine barometer of how things went during the day. Learning how to walk or weaning from the bottle or starting a new daycare can all trigger a few nightmares.

• For simple nightmares go to your child. Sit on his bed and hold him until he’s calm. Most children return to sleep fairly quickly.

• For repetitive nightmares help your child talk about the bad dream during the day. Help him change the ending to one that turns out well. Encourage him to choose a powerful person or a magic weapon to help him overcome the bad parts of the dream. Have your child draw pictures of the new ending to the dream.

By the way, don’t forget to protect him from those scary movies. They cause more than their share of bad nightmares.

During Dr. Schmitt’s 20 years as a medical practitioner and researcher, he has published over 100 articles or chapters on pediatric health care, and has been awarded the distinguished C. Anderson Aldrich Award by the American Academy of Pediatrics for outstanding contributions to the field of child development. Schmitt has also authored five books including Your Child’s Health, which won Child Magazine’s first Hall of Fame Award in 1991. Schmitt is also a professor of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and on staff at The Children’s Hospital in Denver, Colorado.

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