9yo and nightmares - what's normal?

cephOctober 31, 2008

I usually frequent the stepfamily forum, but I suppose this is a "kids in general" question.

When your kids were nine, did they still have nightmares?

Is it fairly common for a generally happy kid of that age to have nightmares where he wakes up sobbing and drenched in sweat?

My FDH's 9yo son has fairly frequent nightmares, and I'm just a little surprised by this...

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Have you ever heard of "Night Terrors" or "Sleep Terrors"? It is something that happens in the 3rd stage of sleep and can cause a young child to sit up in bed and scream. Try looking "Night Terrors" up on the net. There is a lot of info about them.

I had a nephew that this happened to when he was about the same age. I don't know anything else that it could be. My 1stSD33 had bad nightmares and she would sit up in bed and scream "Don't touch me!".....She had been molested....not suggesting that this is FDH's son's situation at all, just saying that extreme stress can cause things like that.

Poor little guy.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2008 at 1:31AM
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Are the adults in the child's life careful about what the child is exposed to on TV and movie's?

    Bookmark   November 1, 2008 at 8:03AM
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Get him a dream catcher to help him feel a little better. We did that for our daughter when she used to have nightmares.

My sister suffers from night terrors. She'll woke up once on the floor, crying and all scratched up. She has no idea how she got there! She said she remembered dreaming about tigers.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2008 at 3:24PM
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We are careful about what he sees, but not everyone else is (for example, his aunt let him watch The Grudge last year)

His nightmares do sometimes have night terror qualities (screaming and terrified), but other times are simply bad dreams (he just wakes up a little teary and a bit scared)

A dream catcher is a good idea. He's half Aboriginal, so he might really feel connected to that.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2008 at 4:43PM
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The New York Times just had an article yesterday about a technique to control chronic nightmares. Boiled down, it seems to consist of imagining ways the dream could have gone better throughout the day. Here's a link: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/10/31/rewriting-your-nightmares/

One second thought: I know that I tend to have nightmares more often if I'm too warm. Maybe there are too many blankets on his bed or he's wearing warmer pajamas than the weather really calls for? I know that when the weather is changing up and down like it has been lately, I sometimes add blankets on a cool night and forget to take them off when it heats up again.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2008 at 7:03PM
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Oddly enough, he does that re-writing thing!
I don't think anyone's ever told him to do it, but he often tells me about a nightmare and says "If I have that dream again I'm going to ____ instead of what happened" and he seems to feel better after that.
Nice to know that it's a "medically supported" technique.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2008 at 7:53PM
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ceph, I answered on stepforum what i think about it.

no, I do not think it is normal for happy kids. some kids never ever had night mares. i did have them and i described on stepforum why I think some kids have them and some don't. I might be wrong but overall lifestyle, emotional health, relationship wiht parents and between parents, what they watch on TV, what they read etc effect their sleeping patterns.

"Grudge" at his age is not a good choice. I would not watch any horror movies ever, i am afraid it would cause me night mares again.

yes, believer, extreme stress contributes to it.

also when DD was little I used to red to her a lot, i would change ending of the books so she would not be scared. i even change Red Ridding Hood. Wolf didn't really eat anyone, he just pretended and he didn't get killed at the end either. he was told to apologize etc lol I never wanted her to have scary dreams like both i and my brother had.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2008 at 10:21AM
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My son went through this during his transition into regular school days. It was stress that triggered them. What helped him? I told him dreams are your mind's way of getting thoughts out, that normally, you won't let yourself think about. And that the players in the dream symbolized things to make it easier to think about. Every once in a while, we'd analyze them and it made him feel more open to thinking it while awake... and talk about it... and eventually learned to relax about what was bothering him.

Yes, it was a "trick", but I think it was just getting it out of his head and into the open that did it, and it is how we did it. Just one more thought to add to it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Dreammoods dictionary to figure out the symbols

    Bookmark   November 3, 2008 at 3:11PM
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This might not apply to your situation, but the daughter of a friend got on the monster kick. She would be nervous going to sleep, and often have dreams with monsters.

So, my friend took some regular spray air freshener and covered the can in a fake lable that said Monster Spray. They would spray it in her room at bedtime and because she could smell the scent, it gave her comfort for a while. She would also place the can on her bedside table for comfort. I think if she woke up they would respray. Her daughter was 6 at the time.

The thing is the kid knew it was fake, but it seemed to offer comfort anyway.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2008 at 7:45PM
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I did the Monster spray too! He loved that one. Even figuring out it was fake was ok, and getting to spray it gave him a sense of control in the situation. He was more like 2-3 when it happened. I'd forgotten that one. It worked too.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2008 at 9:34AM
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I like the idea of Monster Spray but it wouldn't be suitable for A__... Any of you who "know" him from the Step board know that he takes most things over the top and doesn't have very good decision making skills (wonderful heart, but very severe ADHD).
If he had a squirt bottle, EVERYTHING would be sopping wet and it would not be a good scene.
Air freshener as Nightmare Repellent would be a good option, but he gets nosebleeds, so we try to keep his room as scent-free as possible (perfumes seem to trigger his nosebleeds).

Thanks for all the support!

    Bookmark   November 4, 2008 at 10:59AM
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If it continues I would recommend a sleep study. The brains activity can be monitored during sleep to identify a possible disorde. I have nightterror disorder since childhood (it is a biological disorder having nothing to do with scary movies or molestion)
However.. periods of stress or being overly tired (sleep deprived) can bring them on.
I suppose scary movies .. etc. could trigger an episode if the movies were causing a stressed out state just prior to sleep.
They commonly occur within the first hour or two after falling asleep.
I would Rule out a disorder before just treating them as ordinary dreams.
with sleep terrors the child "wakefulness" invades the sleep.. basically asleep and awake at the same time. Your eyes are open and you SEE things that seem real because you are partially awake and seeing it.
very terrifying.
medications may help. Just Knowing what it is .. I found to be a huge help. I'm not crazy .. etc.
Less scary that way.
a characteristic of terrors is bolting upright in bed sometimes yelling.
hope this helps :) maybe it will help someone

    Bookmark   November 19, 2008 at 4:18PM
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A lot of Nightmare dreams are IMO relics of the caveman era where humans too were hunted down and eaten by predators- large cats, and hyenas were the most dangerous. Depending upon your beliefs, you might want to, explain that though we evolved from that time, there are parts of the brain that "still remember", and that he/she is safe and sacure, that mankind has changed.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2008 at 9:16PM
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Check this out. It's the Mayo Clinic website's article on nightmares. There's "article sections" that you can click on for more info...such as "when to seek medical advice", etc.

Here is a link that might be useful: Mayo Clinic's Nightmare Info

    Bookmark   November 19, 2008 at 10:54PM
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