After a patch of relatively good sleep (staying the whole night in her own bed and all), the munchkin has started waking up in the night crying reasonably regularly. I haven't quite figured it out yet. In some cases it seems she's only doing it because she knows that it will get one of us to come into her room. This is a bit of a cleft stick. On the one hand, it's kind of good that she's staying in her own room, but on the other it's more of a disturbance than when she just toddles into our room on her own and hops into bed, usually going straight back to sleep. We need to figure out some new strategy for this one.
Other times, though, she might wake up with a bad dream, and it's fairly obvious when she has. For starters, the timbre of her cry is very different, much more hysterical than the somewhat mechanical "I'm awake, come and see me" cry. Second, she's harder to console. It's not unusual for her to keep crying loudly even once we're there and comforting her. The other thing that's notable about it is that often, between the sobs, she'll be saying "go away daddy!"
It's a tad upsetting, but I think I know why she's doing it. I've heard dreams are a way for our brains to process or organise the events of the day, or of our lives. At her age I guess there's usually a finite set of things to process, and one of the things that upsets her or makes an impact on her is getting a telling-off from dad. I haven't noticed any correlation between the nightmare nights and her receiving a talking-to, but I feel it might be the kind of thing that stays with her.
For the record, there's nothing too fierce in a telling-off. She might get some raised voices (usually only if we need to get her attention urgently to stop her from hurting herself) or sent to her room to time out if she needs to calm down from a tanty. Still, I think it's more the concept of it that stays with her - the idea that she's being punished. I know that in some of my nightmares past it's been a lack of control of my situation that has been the disturbing part, and when she's being punished it usually involves some sort of deprivation, whether it's time out or removal of her DVDs or toys. She doesn't control that and naturally it could become the fodder for her bad dreams, with me at the centre of it.
So to snap her out of it I have to play the situation with kid gloves. Usually once she's calmed down a bit and I tell her that she's had a bad dream, that gets through to her and she wants a cuddle, which is a relief. It's not a nice situation when your child is upset and you're not able to console them! I have to say, though, if this is the worst thing that she has to have nightmares about, I should consider myself lucky.
Do your kids have bad dreams? Do they settle easily afterwards, or is that it for your night's sleep?
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