What to Do When Your Child Struggles with Nightmares | alyssajhoward.com

What to Do When Your Child Struggles with Nightmares

A few weeks ago, it happened. My daughter had her first real nightmare. It actually caught me off guard. Up until this point, neither of my daughters have suffered from nightmares. Interestingly enough, she didn’t wake up with it; rather, she told me about it the next day. I won’t go into specifics over the details, but it was very vivid. And as her mom, I felt deeply sad for her. I honestly didn’t know what to do for her… so I prayed.

What to Do When Your Child Struggles with Nightmares | alyssajhoward.com

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Now there can be psychological reasons for nightmares (which I won’t get into in this post). But in the end, I do believe the root of many of our nightmares to be fear. And since we know that fear does not come from God, spiritually dealing with our fear is a must.


Open lines of communication.

I am so thankful that my daughter told me about her dream. We talked about it openly; and better yet, she now knows to come to me anytime she has a dream she wants to talk about.


Speak the truth in love.

I know that some dreams mean nothing… our brain is simply working as we sleep. But I also know that sometimes dreams mean something. Many in the Old and New Testaments experienced dreams from God; and I know from experience, that sometimes the enemy likes to use our dreams to put fear in our hearts.

My daughter is only five-years-old, so I didn’t feel she was ready to talk about some of this just yet. But we did talk about it as much as she could understand. She knows that God sometimes gives us dreams and that we don’t have to be afraid of the nightmares because God is her protector.


Pray with them, and teach them how to pray.

When my daughter first told me about her nightmare, we prayed together about it. And from there on out, we prayed every night before bed specifically about her dreams. I also taught her how to pray if she wakes up in the night scared. It was so sweet to hear her pray and ask Jesus to protect her and give her “good dreams.” She did ask me one night, “Mommy, what if I can’t remember how to pray?” So I told her, “Just say the name, Jesus. He will know your heart.”


Nightmares may not seem like a big deal; but to a small child, it can mean everything. In my daughter’s case, her dream wasn’t the result of watching something scary on television or anything like that. Her dream was all about her personal fears. 

The enemy is constantly looking for a way to bring fear into our lives… even as adults. In fact, our nightmares often stem from our everyday fears. To be honest, many of my “scary” dreams deal with my family or my kids.  It’s important that we don’t allow the enemy to influence our thinking and cause fear in our lives. When I wake up in a panic after a nightmare, I have two choices. Be scared. Or pray to the One who takes away my fear.

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear… – 1 John 4:18

This is the truth I want to instill in my children… Jesus takes away all fear.


Dreams can’t hurt you in any way, but fear can. It’s important to teach our children that in Jesus, they never have to be afraid.


I prayed to the Lord, and He answered me. He freed me from all my fears. - Psalm 34:4


*Unless otherwise indicated, scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

**Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash


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