sleep foundation
The National Sleep Foundation

Medically Reviewed by

The National Sleep Foundation

Written by

The National Sleep Foundation

Nightmares are very common for young children. Nightmares are especially common for preschoolers because they have greater imaginations and understand bad things can happen. Nightmares are normal and there’s no reason to worry if your child has them. The key to helping your child is to be soothing and responsive.

What To Do When Your Child Is Too Scared To Sleep

 Here are some tips for helping your child with nightmares:

  1. Talk to your child during the day about ways to soothe and cope with nightmares.
  2. Give your child a comfort object such as a stuffed animal to protect them.
  3. Before bed, turn off the lights in your child’s room and talk about things you might notice like shadows. This will help your child get comfortable with the way the room looks at night.
  4. Avoid scary movies, stories, or TV shows, especially before bed.
  5. Try using a nightlight so the room won’t be as dark.
  6. If your child wakes up from a nightmare, calm them down and assure them that they are safe.
  7. Don’t bring your child into your bedroom or sleep in theirs when they are afraid. This will result in dependence instead of developing coping skills.
  8. Ask your child about the dream to help conquer fears.
  9. Praise your child for “being brave” and falling asleep on their own after a nightmare.