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Nightmares: a reflection of children's fears

Nightmares: a reflection of children's fears


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Who has not had a nightmare before? Bufff ... I've had so many! Waking up like that suddenly and with this scare in my body, many times it took away my sleep or that of my parents. Quietly, in my bed, I myself tried to forget about the nightmare, I covered myself with the sheets and little by little I fell asleep again. But there were nightmares that made me jump like a kangaroo out of bed, run off, and crawl into my parents' bed.

These days a friend of mine who has a 2-year-old girl told me what had happened to them. In the middle of one night her daughter came to her bed startled and went to sleep in the middle of her parents. The next morning, my friend commented: You came to my bed tonight, right? And her girl replied: Yes mom and thank you for saving me!.

The nightmares of young children They seem so real to them that they live them as if they were a real battlefield. Perhaps what the girl wanted to say to her mother was to thank her for having saved her from the monster that scared or haunted her during her dream.

Why are children's nightmares so different from what we adults have? Considering that nightmares reflect some fear and that fears are always there and are changing, the same happens with nightmares. You, like me, surely don't have nightmares about Captain Hook's crocodile, or about Snow White's witch. The ones we have are more like real situations.

Children are not aware of the real dangers, but their reaction to a scream, a harsh gesture or a conflict situation or a Halloween story, for example, can cause them a lot of fear and, consequently, the occasional nightmare.

The nightmares they are, in most cases, traces of some traumatic experience. In his book Living with children and adolescents with anxiety, Dr. César Soutullo, director of the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Unit of the University Clinic of Navarra, says that it is in the dream of children that all their fears and fears surface, until they become a nightmare. Nightmares are not all bad. They serve to process children's fears.

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