Your Child's Top 10 Nightmares and Dreams Explained

If your child has a bad dream about bugs in her bed, would it surprise you to learn that she may be upset about having a new sibling? You can learn a great deal about your child's thoughts and feelings, and how to best comfort her, by discovering the hidden meanings behind her dreams. Get interpretations of your child's most common dreams and nightmares from dream expert Gillian Holloway, Ph.D.

Monsters
Children have different kinds of monsters in their dreams, and the action involved varies. When a monster is hiding in the closet or under the bed, or lives under the front porch, this makes the situation doubly scary, because there is nowhere safe or off-limits. When a monster is chasing the child in a dream, or yelling and threatening, we have a clue that the monster may represent not so much a situation as a person in the child's life.

What you need to know:
When parents yell or exhibit unexpectedly harsh behavior either toward their children or toward others, this sometimes translates into "monster" dreams. A cranky teacher or scary neighbor can also be the human side of the monster. These dreams are not necessarily a signal of abuse or anything horrific, but they do indicate that your child may be experiencing something stressful, usually regarding someone close to her. If the dreams repeat, notice when they occur and see if you can associate them with waking-life activities or people. If you recognize your own temper or meltdowns as fodder for the dream, take time to reassure your child that grown-ups sometimes get upset too, but that it does not mean she is at risk, she is in trouble or she needs to be frightened.

Falling
Children, like adults, are susceptible to falling dreams when they feel off balance or out of control. Falling dreams occur most often when there is a sense of chaos in the schedule, when small things mount up or when stability feels somehow shaky.

What you need to know:
In a few instances, falling dreams may be associated with ear infections or with an injury to the eardrum. If you suspect your child may be getting an ear infection or has recently had a bad head cold and falling dreams ensue, you may wish to consult your pediatrician. If you don't believe there is any physical element contributing to the falling dream, then it is possible that your child is dealing with a sense of slipping, as if the normal taken-for-granted aspects of life may not be holding up somehow. This is a time to do what you can to reassure your child of the stable elements in her life, and to discuss, if she is willing to, the things that may seem scary or unsettling. Just the act of sharing can often be reassuring, since she'll know it's all right to be scared and that if she feels worried, she can always find a comforting ear to listen.

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