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It’s not uncommon for 5-year-olds to dream of monsters. They’re at an age when they know bad things happen in the world. This is a scary realization that comes to children as they mature. So it’s not surprising that nightmares occur at this age.

As you can see, it’s very hard to reason with a child who feels afraid. A fear of monsters is irrational, so reasoning will not help.

Instead, try easing your daughter’s anxiety by having her confront her demons, so to speak. Ask her to make drawings of monsters and her scary dreams. Then tell her to include a picture of herself on her drawings. Next, have your daughter draw a device that will make the monsters go away or make them scared of her. Sometimes children will draw a magic wand, or they’ll imagine a good witch who turns monsters into harmless creatures. It’s all right for you to help your daughter in this task. Then, at bedtime, remind your daughter of her drawings and instruct her to use her magic power to make the monsters disappear if they come to her in dreams.

All this may sound silly, but lots of children have been helped by creating a strategy during the day for dealing with monsters they dream about at night. I also suggest that you encourage your daughter to watch “Monsters Inc.” In this movie, the monsters are afraid of kids!

One final idea: make up a game of “courage.” Have your daughter spend time in some part of the house all by herself. Tell her you will time her and she can keep track of how long she’s able to be a brave girl. To help motivate her, decide on a prize or privilege that she’ll receive when she stays alone longer than she did the last time you played.

As you help your daughter cope with her fears, be careful not to be manipulated by them. Children quickly catch on to the extra attention they receive in such circumstances, so they may begin to exaggerate their worries.