Dreams and nightmares are the way that child communicates anxieties. The dream has an important integrating function that helps to make sense of, put into memory daily experiences.
Nightmares are when child wakeups from it being terrified, it is remembered as a very vivid dream and intense experience. It occurs in the late part of the night.
“The parent’s task is to listen and help children deal with the force of their dreams – the actual having of the nightmare may be a useful path to self-awareness for the child about the fierceness of his own emotions” (Daws 1989).
Terr (1987) suggested that nonverbal toddler can’t express their emotions by telling the dream this could predispose the toddler to nightmares, telling the dream could have a therapeutic effect on a child (Bathory & Tomopoulos, 2017).
Having a nightmare and remembering it the next morning can cause a child to be frightened to go to bed or sleep.
Some children experiencing night terrors that are confused by parents with nightmares.
Night terrors are not dreams but rather triggered out of deep sleep- not REM (Broughton, 1968). It usually happens in the first two hours of sleep and it contains, awaking in terror, scream, sweating, sometimes sleepwalking. Usually, sleepers don’t remember anything in the morning, that makes it different from the nightmare. Night terrors are usually reported between the age of 3 to 8 (Hartman, 1984).
It is important to deal with the child calmly. Night terrors could be associate with a genetic tendency in the family or environmental or emotional factors, stress or a difficult period in the family.