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Bad Dreams About Your Child Are Terrifying, But Common — Here's What You Can Do

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I am one of those people who has extremely vivid dreams. When those dreams are frightening or anxiety-provoking, it sometimes takes me a few moments to calm my racing heart or catch my breath when I wake up. This is especially true when I have a bad dream about my kids and dream about something traumatic happening to them. Apparently, I am not alone. These five top parent anxiety dreams cover some of the most common themes related to parenting.

Dr. Lynelle Schneeberg, a sleep psychologist and a Fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, tells Romper why parents may experience anxiety-ridden dreams. "It's certainly common for parents to have dreams that involve risks to the safety of their children. I see this as the brain's way of trying to predict and eliminate these risks, which is certainly normal for a parent," she says. "A child getting lost is common, as is a child getting very sick or being in some type of accident. I can't say with certainty which are the most common, but these are the ones that parents mention to me the most."

Luckily, if you experience any of the following parent anxiety dreams, Schneeberg says that parents can use techniques such as rewriting the ending of the dream upon waking and reading it aloud before going to sleep next, or going into another room upon waking from the dream and focusing on a relaxing activity until you feel tired enough to return to bed. "This helps to keep the bed from becoming associated with negative emotions, and keeps it associated with relaxation and sleep only," she says.

1. Your Child Is Lost Or Kidnapped

This is a frightening scenario in which you may dream that your child has been taken from you or is somewhere unknown. If your child is becoming increasingly independent, a dream where your child is lost or taken from you can be common as you engage in the practice of letting them go, according to dream interpreter Tony Crisp's response to a parent with this type of dream on his dream interpretation forum Dreamhawk.

2. Your Child Is Extremely Ill

One of the worst feelings as a parent is having a sick child. Even if it's just a cold or the flu, feeling helpless to do anything to make your child feel better immediately can be overwhelming. Parents can have dreams that their child is very ill or even hospitalized. Having a dream where your child is sick could point to a problem in your life — possibly with your children — that needs mending, according to the website My Dream Symbolism.

3. Your Child Is In An Accident

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As Schneeberg pointed out, having a dream where your child is in an accident can be a common one for parents. I've had this particular type of dream myself, where I'm driving a car and my children and I are in a terrible accident. The feeling of helplessness is unreal. Fear of loss of control or a life-changing event occurring in real life could be the reason behind dreams of an accident, according to Dream Astro Meanings.

4. Your Child Is Drowning

While this is a very real fear for many parents in day-to-day life, it is also a top category of nightmares for parents, according to clinical psychologist Bruce Stevin Dolin on his website Privilege of Parenting. "Some theories of dreaming include the notion that our brains naturally experience a sinking feeling in our sleep and perhaps we create a water scenario to explain our experience to ourselves," he said. "Further, if we somehow know we are not in water, it might make sense to 'explain' the sensation to ourselves by imagining that our child (a part of us we care so much about) might be sinking and that is why we feel the way we do, even though we are asleep."

5. Your Child Is Abused Or Traumatized

This particular type of dream where you picture your child being abused or traumatized in some way is one that is hard to even put into words. Nobody wants to see bad things happen to their children, but during a dream state, you might picture a form of abuse occurring for several reasons. This could include having experienced abuse yourself at some point, seeing it in a movie or television show, or have felt the feeling of being abused even if no physical abuse has occurred, according to an article by Dolin on his website Privilege of Parenting.