Archives for category: Nightmares

“My child has nightmares, what can I do?”, is a question many parents ask and is extremely common. Children having nightmares is of course not always just the result of watching scary films either. A child having nightmares may be a one off event or it could also be a sign of other problems, be it finding school work hard, being bullied or feeling stress in some way.

If your child does not sleep well, consider also aspects of diet and exercise and whether in general your child is healthy and fit. Sleep is very important and children of course need many more hours than adults and those hours of sleep need to be of good quality as well.

Why does a child have nightmares?

Both children and adults dream for more or less the same reasons. With clients whom I help with decreasing nightmares, I like to think of dreaming at night as a way for the subconscious to clear away the unresolved thoughts from that day. To  decrease the frequency and intensity of nightmares, we can look at the specific images seen or also look at the bigger picture and context of what is happening in day to day life.

Our minds are full of so many images and ideas that our brains need to crunch and process. During sleep and dreaming our subconscious minds filter and play with all the loose ends and thoughts we have ignored during our waking hours. When asleep our imagination can also run a little wild as well and our thoughts can have more freedom to express themselves. Your child will therefore dream about issues and experiences which he or she was unable to completely feel at peace with on a conscious level during the day.

Does your child have repetitive dreams?

Just like an adult, a child dreams at night about experiences both enjoyable and painful that happened during the day. If your child fears separation or fears starting school or experienced something unpleasant, these may all find expression in dreams. This can feel very disturbing for your child, especially since our dreams can feel so real.

The interpretation of your dreams or your child’s dreams may be complicated and subject to much conjecture. I would however recommend keeping it simple. Let’s remember that often the meaning of a dream may simply be more about what, in general, is happening or about the events which happened during the previous day. Of course some images seen in dreams are just simply there because that face or picture was seen the previous day and has little real importance. I’m sure you may have watched a film or spoken to a friend and found that they then, as if by magic, appeared in a dream that evening. If your child is having nightmares, it is the particular disturbing scene or image that is important. If you feel strong emotions during a dream, whether those emotions are positive or negative, these emotions point to where you need to be looking for answers.

Any child having nightmares or disturbed sleep is right now an unhappy child in some way, simple as that. This might be due to something that will pass quickly or may be due to an ongoing stress. Nightmares can feel disturbing since the dreamer feels powerless to do anything about it and feels like it is something external, happening to them and not under their control. Ensure you give your child reassurance that it was just a dream and not real. Ask also about how your child is doing and feeling. How are they feeling about school, friends and home?


Hypnotherapy can help your children with a whole range of challenges. Perhaps you had not considered hypnotherapy as something which might help your children, however hypnotherapy can be very effective and children as very receptive to hypnotherapy as well.

How can hypnotherapy help children?

Hypnotherapy can be used to help with nail biting, anxiety, behavioural problems at school or at home, thumb sucking,  exam nerves and test anxiety, sleep difficulties including nightmares, improving confidence, overeating or compulsive behaviour, fears and phobias such as fearing going to the dentist, needles, heights etc, coping with bullying. Hypnotherapy can also help with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) as well as coping better with ADHD and aspects of Tourette Syndrome.

Do all Hypnotherapists work with children?

Not all hypnotherapists work with children. Many hypnotherapists specialise in an area, be it weight reduction, overeating or perhaps smoking. However not all therapists work with children. It is advisable to check that the therapist you choose is experienced with children and this may mean that they have a background in teaching or have worked with children before. Ensure also that they have  undergone the appropriate legal background checks. In the UK, this is normally referred to as a CRB check, which are now called DBS (Disclosure and barring service) checks.

What Can I expect during sessions?

Before coming to the session, the hypnotherapist will speak with you, the parent, to get all necessary background information. You will be able and encouraged to stay for at the least the beginning of the first session and it is very normal for parents to remain for the entire length of the session. However, you are there for support and the hypnotherapist will be working with your child, so do your best to only really speak when asked and do not answer on behalf of your child if the hypnotherapist addresses your child directly with a question. However, it is very important that you feel confident and happy with sessions, so I would recommend asking all questions you have and perhaps also ‘checkin-in’ with the therapist between sessions, if you want to discuss anything at all.

Does Hypnotherapy work well with children?

Hypnotherapy sessions often also involve talking as well as guided visualisations, so be prepared that a lot of the time will feel like a regular counselling session. However at some point the therapist will ask your child to close his/her eyes and imagine some images and give them some things to think about to help with whatever is bothering them or challenging them. Children enjoy using their imagination and also have not normally seen stage hypnosis on television. This means that children do not normally have the fears that adults have that they will be asked to ‘cluck like a chicken’ or made to look silly or lose control. These are all features of stage hypnosis but do not apply to clinical hypnosis. During clinical hypnotherapy the client can open their eyes whenever they wish and normally can hear every word being said. Also children spend a lot of their day in a bit of a daze and enjoy daydreaming. This means that they more easily go into a trance, since they are more used to using their imaginations. I have personally found that whereas with adults I need to relax them and talk them gently into a very relaxed state, which can take as much as ten minutes, children are often already relaxed enough that within just a few minutes they are ready to start some guided visualisations about what they wish to work on.