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Is your toddler having nightmares?

 Children will tend to scream or cry a lot when they are having nightmares (Photo: iStock)

We have all experienced nightmares at some point in our lives and for toddlers understanding the whole process can be hard.

All they know is that something scary is happening and they will probably scream or cry. It is up to you to keep an eye on your toddler and watch out for any signs of night terrors in them.

The signs are usually similar to what happens when adults experience nightmares and they include some of these on this list:

They suddenly scream or cry

Toddlers sometimes cry when they are uncomfortable, when they are tired and for many other normal reasons. This is part of how they communicate before they can learn how to verbally express themselves properly.

However, you know your child and you can tell when the cry is a bit unusual. It can be more sudden and intense, and it can also progress into screaming in the middle of the night.

When they cry or scream like this, it might be a sign that they have dreamt of something scary.

 They will no longer want to be left alone because they are scared (Photo: iStock)
They are scared to sleep alone when they previously weren’t

You can also tell when you see a change in behaviour. Although kids often have a hard time falling asleep independently, this is not the same.

If you see that they are scared to let go if you try to put them to bed or that they are getting upset when it’s bedtime, they might be struggling with night terrors.

They might be scared of having the same experience they had the previous night and when you see this, you should help them feel safe.

They are fighting in their sleep

This is another sign that also comes up even for adults. When you’re fighting something in your dream, your body can actually react in real life.

The same happens to toddlers who might be struggling with a nightmare. They will be fast asleep but still kick, punch and grab something in their dreams. You should try and wake them up gently because they can end up injuring themselves.

 You will constantly find them wide awake at night (Photo: iStock)
They wake up with a racing heartbeat

Waking up in the morning is usually a peaceful process when you had sweet dreams. But when you’ve had a bad dream, you can wake up feeling anxious and frightened.

You should also be able to spot this sign in your toddler. If they suddenly wake up eyes wide open with a racing heart, they have been terrified by something in their dream.

They are restless

Sometimes when we also have nightmares, we don’t necessarily scream or fight. But a common thing that happens in both adults and children is restlessness.

You can use this sign to check if your child is having a nightmare. They will toss and turn and even make sounds that show they are in distress.

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