My 12 year old son suffered from them until he was around 7 and now it seems that my youngest son, Max - who is 3, is starting to have them as well. I noticed about 6 months ago that it seemed to be starting with him but I was still in denial about it. He only had a couple and they passed after 5-10 minutes of crying. As much as I hate them - I know how to deal with them.
But last night Max had a full on Nightmare and it stayed with him, even after he was awake, for 2 hours. He got up at 7:30 this morning and was still talking about it.
WebMD's website says this of Nightmares and children:
A nightmare is a bad dream that usually involves some imagined danger or threat to the child. The child may dream about danger or a scary situation. Nightmares may involve disturbing themes, images, or figures such as monsters, ghosts, animals, or bad people. Loss of control and fear of injury are common themes.
I remember when I was little I spent most of my time on my grandparent's farm. They had cow dogs, and cattle, and gardens, acres and acres of land and horses. I grew up loving horses in the way only a little girl can. But, at the same time, I remember being certain that "Night Mares" literally came from a white Mare. In my mind, she would come in the night and bring the bad dreams with her as she galloped by your house. I was terrified of white Mares until I was old enough to know that one did not necessarily have anything to do with the other.
Max's Nightmare last night involved a spider. A spider in the bed with us. And then from 1am - 3am, that same spider was at varying places in our bedroom. He was CONVINCED of it. We even turned the lights on and showed him there was nothing there but it didn't matter. There he sat, scrunched up against the headboard of our bed, shaking with a terrified, wide-eyed horror. Max got up this morning and got his laser blaster gun immediately. He began blasting under tables and down the heater returns trying to "kill the spider". At least he was being pro-active about it - right?
This Nightmare reality went so far with him he told me it had "bit him on the shoulder." He insisted it had and insisted that we look in the mirror so he could show me where. He didn't believe me even when I showed him there was no mark on his neck - other than the red place he had made from poking at it himself. He's been up 2 hours and is still talking about it. I was hoping it would have faded more by now.
So this morning I'm making a bottle of SPIDER KILLER and we are battling spiders; making sure our home is safe from them. My magic spider-killing spray is just a plain, plastic spray bottle filled with water but after I get done with it Max will believe it holds within its belly the most toxic Spider-Killing concoction ever invented. We will be checking under beds and in the corners of closets. Heaven help me if we actually do find a spider. I usually catch them and toss them outside but if we do manage to find one alive it may have to be crushed underfoot - sacrificed to the Gods of sound-sleeping children.
We shall see. You do what you have to do.
Now - off to rid our home of those nasty little beasts. Wish us well.