Sunday, November 18, 2012

Dreams and Nightmares

      Dreams and nightmares loom larger in a child’s emotional life than in an adult’s. The reason is simple: Young children need more sleep than older people do so they have more time to dream moreover children may be confused and disturbed by their earliest dreams- which are isolated images quite unlike the complex pageants of grownups’ dreams-because they cannot understand where these images come from. To a three-years-old, a dream experience may seem as real as anything that happens in daytime life.
     While the great majority of a youngster’s dream images are pleasant or at least neutral in feeling, it is perfectly natural for him to suffer an occasional nightmare whenever the normal stresses of growing up spill over from his waking hours. It is these few unpleasant experiences-scary dreams of monsters and other threats-that will usually demand your attention in the middle of the night.
     You may also have to see your child through a rather unusual sleep disturbance called a night terror, during which the youngster may appear to be wide awake and reacting fearfully to a nightmare, but in fact is still deeply asleep and unaware of what is happening. These mid sleep dramas aside, most young children are able to take their dream adventures in stride.