How To Respond To Nightmares And Fear At Bedtime

How To Respond To Nightmares And Fear At Bedtime

There’s no way around it – nightmares are scary. The things is, we, as adults, can rationalise them in our minds. We know they’re not real. We can recover from them quite quickly and still look forward to going back to sleep after a few minutes. Our little ones, on the other hand, aren’t quite so rational. They don’t understand that their nightmares and dreams aren’t real and can’t hurt them. So, what are the best ways to respond to nightmares and fear at bedtime to get your child back into a good sleep schedule again? Read on to find out…

Tips for responding to nightmares and fear at bedtime for parents

Comfort them

Even though you know that nightmares are just nightmares, your little one doesn’t. They are going to be very scared and often they won’t know what is happening, especially if it is the first time they’re dealing with a bad dream. They need to be told that everything is going to be ok. Give them some cuddles and support them by being there until they fall back to sleep.

Explain what is happening

As mentioned above, children are still learning the basics. They learn new things every day – both good and bad. This is one of the bad things, but we still need to make sure we provide them with an explanation so they can learn to process what is happening in their own way. Let them know that it’s completely normal to be scared when they have a nightmare. You can even let them know that you get scared of nightmares sometimes to help them realise it’s something that isn’t just happening to them.

Try to find out where their nightmares and fears at bedtime are coming from

If the nightmares are happening frequently and are repetitious, they might be drawing inspiration from real life happenings in your child’s life. Try to find out what’s going on in their nightmares and see if the theme is similar to something that happens in their day-to-day lives. For example, if they’re having nightmares about a big, scary dog, think about where you take them for walks around the neighbourhood. Do you pass a big, scary dog in a particular yard? It might be time to plan a new route.

Be patient

As with everything when it comes to little ones, patience is one of the best characteristics you can have. It may take some time for your child to understand what bad dreams are and get over their bedtime fears, but if you stick with it and support them, they will work it out.


If your little one is having trouble with nightmares and you can’t seem to figure out why, please feel free to get in touch. We’re always here to help you and your children improve your sleep routines together.

Sleep sweetly and deeply, my loves x

Check out our ultimate survival guide for sleep deprived parents!