Q.: My son, 2 yrs old boy, is waking up at night very often, crying and kicking during the sleep, and sometimes even shrieking. He is afraid of the dark and does not want to go to his bedroom alone. He was checked by a pediatrician, no physical problems were revealed. Nightmares in such a little boy? How can we deal with it? We’ve been told by our friends that Homeopathic medicine is able to restore his sleep.
A.: Babies who do not settle at night and children who will not sleep are common problems and often solutions are difficult to provide. Children who get up at night with fear or a bad dream or nightmare are the children who are sensitive and lack courage or have a feeling of insecurity.
The other group of children who keep watching TV or read comics and horror stories or their parents have been telling them stories in which they are likely to be harmed or injured. This also works as a negative factor in some children and they get nightmares and hence have disturbed sleep. At times when the children are made to sleep alone or separate from their parents they always have a feeling of insecurity and any time in the night they would go to the bed of their parents where they are able to sleep without any problem. Of course newborn babies wake up at night because of the hunger or for their feed and some will remain awake as they have already slept for a very long time.
Toddlers and young children might be getting disturbed sleep as they may have some physical discomfort also such as intestinal colics, itching in the anus, otitis media, etc. After making sure that there is no apparent physical cause for the disturbed sleep it should be treated in the manner of underlying psychological factors. There are some children who would get up in the middle of the night and would refuse to go off to sleep, instead they would want to play.
Many children experience nightmares from time to time. Nightmares often begin around the same time children start to speak. Preschoolers have difficulty distinguishing fiction from reality. As children reach school age, their fears become more realistic and less imaginary. Frightening dreams can start when the child is about two years old, and reach a peak between the ages of three and six years. A common theme is being chased by a frightening person or animal.
Many children are afraid of the dark. A toddler or preschooler tends to be afraid of unfamiliar things that they don't understand or can't control. Their active imaginations, and their inability to always distinguish between reality and fantasy, means they may believe that monsters are under the bed or in the closet, waiting to spring once the light goes out. If not addressed, a child's fear may linger and continue to disrupt their bedtime routine and sleeping habits.
A nightmare is an intense, frightening dream which suddenly wakes the dreamer, who often remains frightened even after the nightmare is over. It is so memorable that the wakened child still feels the fright that was so vivid in sleep. A dream that brings out feelings of strong, inescapable fear, terror, distress, or extreme anxiety. This phenomenon typically occurs in the latter part of the night and usually awakens the child who is able to recall the content of the dream and waking up with feelings of strong, inescapable fear, terror, distress, or extreme anxiety.
Dreams and nightmares act as coping mechanisms for digesting thoughts and feelings left unprocessed in waking life. Nightmares are an outlet for unresolved problems of the rational conscious mind.
A Scary Dog: I recently saw a little boy, brought to my clinic because of involuntarily urination at night and nightmares. He was very sensitive child and was frightened easily. He also has horrible fears after seeing scary television programs or pictures in books. Even seemingly innocent videos would make him scream. Once, the father was reading for him a book with a picture of a dog, and the poor boy was screaming the whole night . Homeopathic remedy Stramonium shifted his predisposition away and this little boy slept through the night restfully.
Practical Tips for Parents:
- Make sure your child doesn't watch frightening shows on television, or read scary books.
- Establish a bedtime routine that your child finds relaxing and enjoyable.
- Stressful events that could trigger a spate of nightmares include a new sibling, moving house or starting school.
- Talk about dreams together, and explain that everyone has dreams and occasional nightmares.
- Thinking about the nightmare positively - especially when the child comes up with a happier ending or 'makes friends' with the nightmare character - can help to defuse the power of the dream.
- Install a nightlight in your child's room, or let some light from the hallway or other nearby source filter into their room.
- Don’t wait, go to your child’s room as soon as you can.
- Talk calmly and gently. Cuddle and reassure your child.
- Be prepared to stay with them until they have calmed down.
Is your child afraid of the dark or see Ghosts and Monsters? Homeopathic medicine does wonders in treating children with sleeplessness and nightmares, makes them feel happier and healthier. Just give them a chance!