Dreams can reveal a lot about the state of our psyche. Specific thoughts manifest into "naked in front of the class" dreams, and certain anxieties can result in night terrors of the especially unsettling variety. For children, it can be especially terrifying to wake up in a cold sweat, heart pounding, unsure of what's real and what isn't. So, as a parent, it pays to know about the common childhood nightmares and what they mean. While you can't keep your child from having nightmares, you can interpret your little one's fears and, hopefully, assist your child in overcoming them.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, 10 to 50 percent of children between the ages of 3 and 6 have nightmares "significant enough to disturb their parents." DreamDictionary.Org, which offers an interactive dream forum for members to analyze their dreams, defines a nightmare as "a dream that occurs during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep that results in feelings of strong terror, fear, distress and extreme anxiety." A night terror, on the other hand, is when someone "physically acts out in their sleep by screaming, thrashing, or even crying." And while the American Sleep Association (ASA), an organization dedicated to increasing awareness about the importance of sleep and the dangers of sleep disorders, reports that 80-90 percent of the population experiences nightmares at some point in their lives, children are more prone to them than adults. In fact, according to the ASA, a child has one or more scary dreams a week.
As most parents will tell you, sleep disturbances can wreak havoc on everyone in the house. So with that in mind, and because us parents are exhausted enough, here are some of the more common nightmares your child may experience and what they could mean: