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How should I react?

How should I react?

Reassure him, console him, speak to him, take him in your arms and talk softly to him. Don't forget that even small babies can have nightmares. If possible, don't turn on the main light, which will wake him up properly and make it difficult for him to get back to sleep. Leave a little light on in the hallway. And don't get into long explanations or stories about wolf hunts in an attempt to prove that no wolves are hidden under his bed!

- The following day, if he's old enough, ask him to describe his dream and draw it. You will be surprised at how this simple act can root out fears and allow the feelings that caused the bad dream to be distanced from it.

Explain to him that the monsters who appear in his nightmares don't really exist and that they are just the product of his imagination. And if he replies with "I know that but the nightmares don't", suggest that he tells them in the evening to warn them.

Try using a dreamcatcher. This is an old custom of the Ojibwa Indians of North America. It's a dream net made of wood and decorated with feathers and beads. It's hung at the door of the bedroom and traps bad dreams.

- Speak to him (this is probably the most important thing you can do) about what's upsetting or worrying him. If the arrival of a little brother or sister is bothering him, let him express himself. Explain that you're not angry, that it's normal to experience resentment towards the new family member and that he doesn't have to feel affection for him or her. 

- Adopt an attentive ear and an open mind. He will feel loved, respected and understood. The odds are that the period of nightmares will be brief even if they do reappear.


Sarah Horrocks
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