I had a nightmare…” Does this cry for help often interrupt your precious sleep? Normally, answer the shrinks: the “Pomme d’Api” age is the age of nightmares! Courageously, our journalist set out to meet the monsters and villains that inhabit children’s nights.
One year, my daughter had recurring nightmares. So much so that she dreaded going to bed , dreading these bad dreams that would come and wake her from her sleep in terror. She talked a lot about the bad guys, who, sure enough, would scale the gate and reach her bedroom window with a stepladder. To reassure her , we lined up Cartesian arguments: the door is locked, the shutters are solid, the gendarmerie is close by…
Without thinking that, speaking thus, we accredit the existence of the famous bad guys! Without thinking that the famous bad guys were born inside her, and not outside! “I’m right to be afraid”, our little girl had to say to herself… Mean guys ?
But then, how to support your child who is having nightmares?
“ Parents are in a bad place, ” recognizes Françoise Guérin, psychologist and author… of thrillers, because they are often the “bad guys” of their children’s dreams, hidden under the guise of dinosaurs, monsters or witches. What injustice, what ingratitude! Nothing but very natural and healthy , however, at the age when the child begins to assert himself as an individual . He then seeks to oppose those who are dearest to him, his parents.
What ? We bad guys?
He has extremely strong feelings for them, of love and hatred. On our side, the parents are showing themselves to be more and more demanding of them, expecting their child to be clean, to be patient, to tidy up, to say hello… This produces internal conflicts and worry that manifests as nightmares or night terrors. We therefore understand that interpreting out loud the story that our child has just told us, or insisting that he tell his nightmare is clumsy: he feels confusedly that his unconscious desire, which manifests itself in this bad dream, is unavowable. !
On the influence of images We sometimes have the impression
That the nightmare is caused by a cartoon, a terrifying story, a film: what has been read, heard or seen, the previous days, comes to populate the nights of children – like those of adults, d ‘somewhere else. But this is not what causes the nightmare : the fear is already there, inside the child, and will slip into the “material” made available by the stories read or seen, even in the
While it is detrimental to leave a child in front of the news or age-inappropriate movies, there is no point in suppressing or watering down scary stories . Let your child choose the bedtime story, and never mind if it’s the Big Bad Wolf! It is therefore vain to believe that one can repel bad dreams, which are healthy psychic phenomena.
Still, we can try to help the child to live them better.
For this, it can be beneficial to say that we sometimes have them too and to talk about our own childhood memories: “I too had nightmares that scared me a lot. And then I realised that those fears were in my head.” We can also listen carefully to the story that the child is telling, suggest that he draw it, or draw the nightmare ourselves from his dictation: “What was his tail like? Like that ? And since expressing your fears is never easy, you can make figurines say:
“What is your comforter afraid of?
At the leisure centre, my children made a ‘ nightmare trap ‘, ” says Emmanuelle. They believe in it a lot. I find that they are making false promises!” Not false. That children believe in it is one thing. That the adult encourages them to believe it is another. To circumvent this pitfall, Françoise Guérin suggests instead supporting the child’s proposals, asking him: “In your opinion,
What could we do to reduce nightmares?
Advantage: the parent proves that he cares about his child’s problem. Together, they devote time to it, talk about it, and the child is active. It’s up to us to take his solutions seriously, without making fun of them. Antoine, 5 years old, puts his bow and arrows on his bedside table every night. Six-year-old Jeanne has a Playmobil rampart on the railing of her bed.
And the “talismans”?
A little patient of Françoise Guérin drew an “anti-nightmare” line with chalk all around her bed. In others, the mosquito repellent spray works in all seasons to drive away the monsters of the night. Pschitt, pschitt, disappear, ugly ghosts!com/parents/cahier-parents/cauchemars-terreurs-nocturnes