Children and nightmares.

I knew eventually we would have to deal with the girls having nightmares, but sadly that day has finally come.

Last night, my girls spent the night at my mom’s house. Like they have done tons of times before. However, this morning my oldest daughter (she will be 5 in March) tells me that she had two really bad dreams last night.

One, was about a boy who poked her when she was at her grandpa’s house. Not too strange, but maybe just a feeling she is having. The second dream is what has really messed her up.

She said she “saw” Chuck E. Cheese standing outside their bedroom door. See to most kids, he is fun.

Not to her.

I’m guessing it started because Friday morning we had a play date at Chuck E Cheese. She loves that place, but every time we have ever been there she runs and hides under the table when the Chuck E. Cheese guy comes out. Of course, I have told her hundreds of times that he is not real, just a guy dressed up in a costume like for Halloween, but all the time. She says she understands, but he still scares her.

This morning, when I went to pick the girls up from my mom’s, she refused to go grab her stuff from their room. She was on the floor, in a ball, crying.

I continued to tell her that there was no one else in grandma’s house, but us. That he is not real and there is nothing to be scared of. I told her to go get her things from her room or she wouldn’t be staying the night at grandma’s anymore.

She flat out said, “Fine. I don’t want to stay the night here anymore.”

My heart was breaking for her.

I know how much she LOVES to stay the night at my mom’s. For her to say that to me, she must be really scared. I even told her no more Chuck E. Cheese then, and once again, she was okay with that.

So now my question for you is, what do you do when your child has a bad dream/nightmare? 

I am praying it’s just a phase.


photo credit


  1. I was really afraid of the dark growing up. I spent most the nights wide awake staring at the closet or the doors, and hiding under the covers thinking they could actually protect me. My hands and feet can not be near the edge or especially hanging over, and I still hate being home alone.

    I would start with no scary movies of any kind. I remember all those images when I’m most frightened.

    Logan has been having nightmares lately, he’s afraid to go to sleep, he starts crying saying he doesn’t want to have bad dreams. We tell him he isn’t going to always have nightmares, but if he does we’re right here for him and he can come to us if he needs us. His sister suggested saying a prayer before bed to bless that he doesn’t have bad dreams… that works. He also actually grabbed a doll himself and said that that would keep the bad dreams away. I try and sing him a song every night to calm him down.

    Also, you don’t want to feed their fears. Don’t shove Chuck E Cheese in her face saying he isn’t real because to her he is. Tell her that it’s going to be okay, that it was a bad dream and that you’re going to protect her. Hold her when she’s crying about it, it will comfort her and maybe make her see it’s not that big a deal. And keep it light hearted. I try and make Logan laugh sometimes when he’s freaking out so he knows everything is still okay, but still take her seriously. <3

    I don't know if that helps, but we get the nightmares. Logan thinks that grandma's house has zombies at night, for the last couple months.

    • I am a child therapist and I also counsel parents. I always advise parents to empower their children in relation to bad dreams by explaining that “Dreams are stories we tell ourselves for a reason. We just have to understand the reason.” For example, the little girl who had a bad dream after spending the night with her grandmother may have been missing her mother. There are many different reasons why she might have missed her mother this particular night, including fearing that her mother was angry — a common fear at this age. In any event, it is important to take children’s bad dreams seriously in the sense that they initially believe in them and to talk to them about events the previous day that may have been upsetting to them. I have actually written a picture book coming out this March, “Mommy, Daddy, I Had a Bad Dream” that helps children understand their bad dreams and helps parents talk to them and get them happily back to bed.

  2. Wow, I really wish I had advice for you. I just try to comfort my daughter the best that I can. When she would be afraid of the Easter Bunny, we would explain to her it wasn’t the real EB, that he was a helper in a costume. And she couldn’t tell the other kids, because they would be heart-broken. Maybe you could let her in on the secret about Chuck?

  3. Aww, that is so hard. Kids have really vivid imaginations at that age and its hard to distinguish real from imaginary (like, seriously, I learned all about the neuroscience behind it when I was getting my MA in teaching).

  4. When my girls have a nightmare I soothe them. My eldest has night terros which began at 2yrs old. There is no calming her until she wakes from it, we keep her safe and soothe her afterwards.

    We’ve found by keeping a bedtime routine and allowing her 11hrs of sleep she gets them rarely now…

  5. First off, Chuck E Cheese IS scary. I hate that rat. Secondly, maybe you could ask the Chuck E Cheese costume guy to show her that he’s just a man – maybe he’ll remove the head of his costume for her to calm her fears?

  6. I had a GIANT PLUSH LION that was as big as me. I always thought he protected me at night. Maybe she just needs someone more powerful than Chuck E Cheese to keep her safe and cuddle with when scared?

  7. We make special lavender spray that washes away all the nightmares and say a special prayer to the archangels to protect them every night.

  8. Awww…. poor sweetie. I know my brother had nightmares ALL the time. We finally figured out it was because of a movie he watched. We have to REALLY make sure that he doesn’t watch anything scary at all now.

    Lavender oil works really well for nightmares though. :) We use it all the time.

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