Monsters Under the Bed? What Your Kids' Nightmares Really Mean

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Stacey Stapleton on Jan 1, 2010 at 11:59AM

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What Your Kids' Nightmares Mean!

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a Stacey Stapleton on Mar 10, 2011 at 1:29AM

It’s a fact of life -- kids have good dreams and bad dreams. And while they may seem disturbing -- and sometimes keep you from getting a full night’s rest -- there’s usually no cause for concern. According to experts from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 70 percent of all dreams are rooted in some form of everyday anxiety, or ‘day residue,’ which help kids release tension. Got a kid who dreams about home invasions, bugs, monsters or even falling? We’ve rounded up the most common childhood dreams, what they mean and how best to manage them, so you’ll be ready when the lights go out!

Dream: Being Chased

What It Means: This dream's often a metaphor for feeling insecure about something or a desire to run away from a problem. "Adults are typically chased in nightmares by an unknown human figure," says Dr. Shatkin, M.D. M.P.H. Vice Chair for Education at the New York University Child Study Center and a spokesperson for the American Society of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. "But kids tend to dream of being chased by an animal or some frightening fantasy figure."

What You Can Do: Kids usually can’t identify exactly why they feel inadequate, so you’ll have to do some digging. Find a quiet moment -- not right before bedtime -- and ask your child about what’s going on at school. Focus your questions around unstructured times your kid spends with other children, like lunch and recess, since chasing dreams can be manifestations of social adjustment issues. Need help breaking the ice? Try asking who your kid plays with on the playground or who he sits next to during lunch or snack time.

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