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How to Help Kids with Nightmares?

Questioner

A (28_female_Pakistan)

Reply Date

Feb 12, 2019

Question

My son is 3-1/2 years old, and I have started telling him about Allah. I tell him that we pray to thank Allah for all the good things He has given us. My son has started having nightmares, so I told him if we read the Qur’an together before sleeping, this will protect him from the animals that bite him in his nightmares. My husband thinks it is too early to tell him all that. I would like to let him read something to convince him that it is not too early as long as I am not mentioning Hell or devils or anything like that. I would appreciate your help.

Counselor

Answer


In this counseling answer:

•Find the source of the nightmare.

•Ensure the bedtime routine is one that calms your child down. This routine should begin at least two hours before bedtime.

•Do not let your child watch television or read stories about topics that might be scary.

•A nice story can be soothing, though. So can a bath, a nightlight, or a song.”


Salam ‘Alaykum,

Early child development specialists have varied opinions about when and how to introduce religious concepts such as good and evil, Satan, Heaven and Hell. Concepts of evil and the hidden should not be introduced early. It cannot be made tangible to a child’s logic. What he sees in his sleep might help to realize a hidden fear in his daily life which could mean that he feels insecure or unsafe emotionally and psychologically in his environment. If we let Allah protect us, He will.

Usually, children have nightmares between the ages of 2 and 7. There are reasons behind having nightmares.

-Maybe the child is worried about something.

-Maybe the child has seen parents argue or witnessed a bad family situation (strong argument or abuse).

-Maybe the child has seen a scary movie or video during the day or, especially, before going to bed. This would lead to fears of monsters or animals.

-Maybe the child is having difficulty with playmates or in nursery school.

-Maybe there are physical conditions such as illness, fever, or an accident.

Basically, anything that a child finds upsetting may cause nightmares. Observe your son well to figure out the reason for these nightmares. From your question, it seems that the reason involves a fear of animals.

When your child has a nightmare, there are several things you can do:

-Go to your child immediately and provide comfort. Reassure your child that it was only a dream and is not real.

-Stay with your child who may even want to sleep with you in your bed.

-Talk with your child the next day. Talk about anything he or she wants to talk about, but don’t make suggestions or put ideas in his or her mind.

-Ask your child to describe the nightmare. If your child is unable to describe it in detail, drawing and painting may help.

-Talk to your child about any problems or worries he or she may have.

-Reassure your child by letting him or her know that Allah Most High protects us in the night if we read the Qur’an before going to bed.

-Play and recite the Qur’an before going to bed.

-Talk to your child about how much Allah loves him or her. Explain how Allah will protect him or her day and night, no matter where he or she is.

There are several things that can be done to help the avoidance of nightmares, such as:

-Find the source of the nightmare.

-Ensure the bedtime routine is one that calms your child down. This routine should begin at least two hours before bedtime.

-Do not let your child watch television or read stories about topics that might be scary.

-A nice story can be soothing, though. So can a bath, a nightlight, or a song.

-Talk about the good things that happened that day, or just talk about anything your child wants to talk about.

-Let your child play with toys or just spend time with you and your husband.

-Remind your child about the du`aa’(supplication) he or she should read before sleep.

-Try not to talk about nightmares just before your child sleeps.

-Tell your child to think of good things, like family, friends, or anything else that is pleasant.

If a child suffers from recurrent or very disturbing nightmares, the aid of a therapist may be required.

May Allah Most High help you and guide you in raising excellent Muslim children. Thank you for being concerned.

***

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

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