Nightmares can be scary for children and parents.
"Children usually begin having nightmares between the ages of three and six years old," says Thomas Dunigan, M.D., a Mayo Clinic Health System pediatrician. "Nightmares usually start to decrease after the age of 10. The content of childhood nightmares varies with age. Younger children might have nightmares about monsters, while older kids have nightmares about school or difficulties at home."
Dr. Dunigan says nightmares can be caused by a number of things, including:
"Occasional nightmares aren’t usually causes for concern and can be discussed with your health care team during a routine well-child visit," adds Dr. Dunigan. "You may want to talk to your health care provider sooner if your child’s nightmares occur frequently and persist over time, routinely disrupt sleep, cause fear of going to sleep or cause daytime behavior problems."
Dr. Dunigan offers tips for more peaceful nights:
"So, what can you do the next time your child awakens in the middle of the night with a nightmare? Be patient, calm and reassuring," Dr. Dunigan reiterates.