It's amazing how different kids can struggle with nightmares that rob them from sweet dreams. My youngest is my most sensitive child, and even though she's better now, there were many nights when she would find her way into my bed terrified from a bad dream. As much as I love those sweet snuggles, I hate that dreams torment her. Here are five ways that we worked to cultivate sweet dreams.
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1. Be Careful Little Eyes What You See
First things first - what are you taking in? I could almost directly connect the days when she watched something "scary" to the nights she was found in our bed. This wasn't the only time she would have bad dreams, but one of the most guaranteed.
It didn't have to be something overly intense that you would think would spark nightmares, but something as simple one 30 second scene from a cartoon could put a negative images in her mind and she'd be a mess for the rest of the day.
It's hard to guard everything, but simply watching what your child takes in can really make a difference in how sweetly they sleep that night.
2. Bedtime Stories
One simple way to encourage sweet dreams is to read stories to set their mind on lovely things.
Bella's Magic Dream Glasses by Andrew Swanson is a great example of the power of stories to encourage better thoughts. In this book, a little girl doesn't like going to bed because there are so many fun things to do, and bed keeps her from doing these fun things. Her father shows her how she can use magic dream glasses to have even greater fun. Each night she dreams of a new and amazing adventure. This book is great for bedtime because of the rhythm and cadence of the story as well as the content.
Providing a sweet and calming activity with your child right before bed can help them feel confident and secure because of their strengthened relationship with you.
Some of our all time favorite bedtime books:
So you've got their minds thinking on the right kinds of things, but some nights you need a little bit more to encourage your struggling sleeper. Here are some things you can try:
My daughters share a room, and one likes it dark, and the other is terrified without a night light. This little glow bug nightlight is sweet and comforting. Her big sister just puts on her sleep mask and they found a happy compromise. She's tried out several night lights, but this has been her favorite.
Another great addition to your child's room is a diffuser. There is nothing more calming than a little bit of lavender oil circulating through the room. I love this diffuser and a couple of drops of lavender (and if they ask, some vanilla) and their room is a soothing haven of safety. Many diffusers also have light features that continue to soothe throughout the night.
4. Soothing Music for Sweet Dreams
Music is always a great way to help calm your kids down and settle them for bed. Here are some of our favorite restful albums:
- Piano Guys: A Thousand Years (we're huge fans over here)
- Anything by Yo-Yo Ma (nothing quite as soothing as the cello)
- Baby Einstein Naptime Melodies
- Fernando Ortega: Beginnings (beautiful and peaceful praise music)
- David Nevue's Adoration: Solo Piano Hymns
Sometimes, try as you may, the nightmares stick around and sweet dreams are nowhere to be found. The absolute most powerful way to fight off bad dreams is prayer. By slowing down for a few minutes at bedtime, you can encourage your child's faith by taking your troubles before the Lord. If you don't know what to pray, here are some great prayers to memorize:
It doesn't take a fancy prayer though, just simply opening up your heart before the Lord in the presence of your children will have a powerful impact on their little hearts.
Cultivating sweet dreams doesn't have to be an overwhelming task. Patience covers all frustrations as you try out different ideas to see what will work. Each child is different as well, so what works for one may not work for the other.
What ways have you found success in cultivating sweet dreams?
Betsy Strauss is an unexpected homeschooler, mother of three, who is in a relationship with a sweet man for life. She loves reading books, drinking coffee, and learning anything with her kids.