How do I stop my toddler from having night terrors? Keep reading!
Every parent knows for sure how important good and peaceful sleep for their child is. They try various techniques that will help their toddler to sleep for the whole night.
But sometimes even the biggest effort doesn't help – children, especially toddlers, tend to have nightmares. Why? Well, we all dream and experience night terrors from time to time, and in the case of young children, they can be even more frequent. Kids have great imagination, and they can't differentiate between the ‘real' world and the creatures they see in cartoons or hear about in stories. Such nightmare incidents are normal in children at that age, but parents can take care to minimise their negative effects.
How do I stop my toddler from having night terrors?
Check what your child is watching or reading
Psychology says that dreams are a blurred reflection of what we experience during the day, so what we read or see in the media. Children are especially prone to this influence because they can't fully understand what's real and what's fake yet. It's important for the parents, then, to keep an eye on the materials they give to the child. Be careful and choose books or cartoons appropriate for your toddler's age, and remember to pay attention to the characters – they shouldn't be scary or vulgar. If the kid is still scared of anything in the book, it's better to put it away for some time. Children are developing fast, and it may turn out that in a few weeks, it'll be perfectly okay to come back to. It's a good idea to expand the collection of appropriate and attractive materials. If you look for great gift ideas for your toddler, have a look at the webpage of Parent Network Center.
Reduce time in front of the screens
It's nothing new that overusing technology has a negative impact on all of us, especially children. Why? All the devices with screens emit the so-called ‘blue light'. Scientists proved that this kind of light is destructive for our sleep pattern and shouldn't be used right before going to sleep. When it comes to children, toddlers aged 2 to 4 should spend maximum of half an hour a day watching TV or playing with a tablet. So make sure to provide your child some alternative ways of entertainment, for example, board games, LEGO blocks, or activities based on physical exercise. Ideally, a toddler should have a chance to spend some time outside every day. It helps to keep the high quality of sleep. To make it even better, you might try some essential oils to create a relaxing atmosphere. Also, think about arranging the child's bedroom in soft colours to make it even more tranquil.
Communicate with your child
There's nothing worse for a kid than to be ignored. They love talking about their imagination, plans for the future, or feelings. That's why communication is so important. When you discover something that your child is particularly afraid of, for example, being alone in a dark room or seeing black colour, try to discuss the fear. Don't say ‘Oh, it's nothing'. Don't be silly', as the child will feel even worse. Suggest, for example, that you will stay with them until they fall asleep or buy a fancy night lamp to keep it on during the night. You can also ask a child to draw their bad dreams or talk about them. Maybe it'll be a calming experience, and the night terrors won't be that scary. However, refrain from asking your toddler ‘Have you had nightmares?' every morning. It will make them feel stressed and actually … have more nightmares! Children tend to quickly forget some events, especially when they wake up having another exciting day ahead of them.
Be sensitive to red flags
Although nightmares are a natural counterpart of human life and a child's development, there are some signals that should make you concerned. If your child has repetitive nightmares about the same topic, for example a situation connected with going to the kindergarten or meeting certain people, you should bother. Why? It may be a signal that there's some danger in the child's environment – it may be a victim or abuse or violence. When it's connected with lack of appetite, bad moods, wetting at night, problems with waking up or falling asleep, it may be an alert of a serious problem. In this case, it's advisable to contact a psychologist who will assess the risk and advise appropriate therapy. Sometimes night terrors are an indicator of some further development disorders.
Night terrors are a normal phenomenon at some stages of childhood. Provided that they don't happen on a daily basis, there is no big issue to be concerned with. You can only try to soothe their impact on your toddler's well-being by talking to them, explaining how dreams work, and making their bedroom as pleasant as possible. Remember about the role of physical activity, too. Try to stimulate the general development of the kid by encouraging them to take part in various activities, sports and games. If it gets serious, though, and you see some additional symptoms, don't be ashamed to contact a specialist or a local family support center.