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Should I Be Worried About My Child's Nightmares?

My daughter has nightmares that sometimes wake her up. Should I be worried?
- Emelia

Nightmares are pretty common in childhood, especially in kids younger than 10. Aside from making for a restless night's sleep for everyone involved, the occasional nightmare is generally not a cause for concern.

There's no proven way to prevent the occasional nightmare, but you might try having your daughter avoid scary books, movies, and video games before sleep. Having a happy, peaceful bedtime routine also can help. Using a nightlight, sleeping with the bedroom door open, and having a security item (like a favorite blanket or stuffed animal) can help kids feel safer. Some kids even like to keep a flashlight next to their bed.

Recurring nightmares may signal fear or anxiety worth exploring through discussions with your child or with the help of your doctor or a behavioral health professional. If you're concerned about the nightmares, your child has them often, or she seems afraid during the day, talk to her doctor.

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: July 2013