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Is it normal for children to have nightmares?


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Is it normal for children to have nightmares?

Although it is hard to determine exactly when kids begin to dream, even toddlers may speak about both pleasant and scary dreams. While almost every child has an occasional frightening or upsetting dream, nightmares seem to peak during the preschool years when fear of the dark is common. Everyone will experience nightmares at some point in their lives and many will experience recurring nightmares over a period of time. Many children go through times in their development when nightmares can become a real problem. Research shows that the majority of children experience nightmares between the ages of three and four and seven and eight. This is part of normal development, and does not normally suggest any usual problems with the child.

Nightmares are not completely preventable, but parents can take steps to aid their children in conquering their fears. Helping kids conquer this common childhood fear also equips them to overcome other scary things that might arise down the road. Parents should speak about nightmares with their children during the daytime and make a plan how to deal with the nightmares when they occur. If a child is unusually distressed about a nightmare and it affects the child’s daily life, it may be beneficial for the child to see a psychologist to help deal with the nightmares.

In the Jewish Community

Children in the Jewish community are afflicted by nightmares just like most other children, but they can take slightly different steps to get rid of the problem. Parents whose children suffer from nightmares may want to try reciting Shema with their child every night, as it includes a paragraph about protection from nightmares. In addition, children should be reassured that nightmares are normal and can happen to everyone.

Use the following links to learn more about nightmares. Find out why nightmares occur and how you can prevent them from happening.

Frequently Asked Links

How can I explain what nightmares are to my child?

What causes nightmares and how can I help my child deal with them?

At which age are nightmares most common?

What are night terrors?

What are the differences between nightmares and night terrors?

What causes night terrors?

How can I help prevent night terrors?

Should I be worried if my child has nightmares?

How can I help my child end his or her nightmares?

How can teens stop their nightmares?

Should I let my child sleep in my room after having a nightmare?

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Parenting Resources for the Jewish Community

Compiled by Rabbi Yakov Horowitz

American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM)
AASM strives to increase awareness of sleep disorders in public and professional communities.

American Sleep Apnea Association (ASAA)
The ASAA is dedicated to reducing injury, disability, and death from sleep apnea and to enhancing the well-being of those affected by this common disorder.

American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.

National Sleep Foundation (NSF)
NSF is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to improving public health and safety by achieving understanding of sleep and sleep disorders, and by supporting education, sleep-related research, and advocacy.

American Academy of Family Physicians
This site, operated by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), provides information on family physicians and health care, a directory of family physicians, and resources on health conditions.

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