Over the last four nights, I have been woken by the boys a minimum of one time each night. The reasons vary. One time, Luke’s water was not cold anymore and he wanted ice in it. Another time, Jack had a booger in his nose and couldn’t breath. Another time, Luke’s nose was bleeding. But most often, when the boys wake me in the middle of the night, it’s because they’ve had a nightmare.
Jack and Luke seem to have nightmares relatively often. The nightmares aren’t so terrifying that they can’t fall back to sleep, but they are scary enough that the boys require company in their rooms until they fall back to sleep. Usually the nightmares involve being chased, being lost, falling out of the car, or being eaten by a monster.
I started doing some searching around on the Internet, and found that studies show that girls are more likely to have nightmares than boys. It’s on the Internet, so it must be true. This surprised me. I thought that boys would be more likely than girls to have nightmares due to the fact that boys (at least mine anyway) are more prone to playing aggressive games that involve some sort of battling, chasing, or attacking. There is almost always a monster or villain involved in their games, and they are required to escape from it or defeat it. Why wouldn’t they be scared? If I played “The Monster is Getting Me” games everyday, I’d have nightmares too.
In these games, my boys always sprout some superpower that allows them to defeat the monster. They are stronger, faster, and smarter than the monster. Also, the monster is usually played by me and I am extremely easy to defeat. The monster is reduced to a gelatinous pile of blubber, and the boys are heroes that have saved the day.
Maybe that is why girls have more nightmares than boys. Boys have a sense of strength and power that allows them to defeat their imaginary monsters. Do girls, by nature, feel too weak to overcome the bad guy? I found a guide to helping children overcome nightmares, NIGHTMARES AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT THEM: A Parent’s Guide to Children’s Bad Dreams. In this guide, one of the treatments for nightmares is to help your child feel powerful enough to defeat the monsters in their dreams. They can defeat the monster during the day, why not at night in their dreams? Well, in the day the monster is imaginary and looks like mommy. In their dreams, it takes on a realistic form with razor sharp teeth and talons. Luke says, “I know monsters are not real, but I believe in them anyway.” How do you argue with that?
The guide also recommends getting your child to describe their nightmare in detail. My boys usually are too scared to do this right after their nightmare. I did get Luke to do it one night. He said, “There were all of these puppies around me, and they kept licking my face.” That’s a nightmare? I was convinced it was just a ploy to get me to come in and lay with him. I found out the next morning that the puppies were vampire puppies. Now, that’s scary.
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