Here’s your opportunity to learn more about the parenting styles of each Maturing Mama. No Mama is exactly the same in her parenting skills. This is our opportunity to highlight our differences in parenting in a means to help you find a method that works for you.
Your child comes to you in the middle of the night complaining they’ve had a bad dream and refuse to go back to bed. What would be your best response and why?
If Remy (who’s 3) came to us in the middle of the night complaining because she’d had a bad dream I would know it was an emergency! We do our best to stick to her routines – she is a kid who thrives on routine, and we love the predictability too. Through sleep regressions, sleep resistance, colds, and bad dreams, we offer extra comfort and reassurance so that she is calm and (we hope) feels safe when we say goodnight. If she came into our room, though, I would know something was very wrong!
Remy does not get out of bed until the sun is up on her clock (thank you Grow Clock!!!). Instead she will call us for whatever she needs at night. If she got out of bed because of a bad dream I would do anything short of letting her stay up for the rest of the night. And she would likely just want to sleep in our bed.
We are lucky to have two kids who love sleep, and love their own beds and space, so I wouldn’t be worried about Remy wanting to sleep with us from then on. It may take another night or two, but she would be sleeping in her own bed again soon enough. I would only be worried about the dream that was so terrible it got her out of bed in the middle of the night!
Ultimately, we want her to feel safe, and know that we take her fears seriously – that we will do everything we can to help her in these situations. That reassurance of safety is most important.
The many times my children have come into my room in the middle of the night saying they had a bad dream, my initial response is always to tell them I am so sorry they had a bad dream, have them crawl into bed with me and pray for them.
Then we cuddle and I let them spend the rest of the night in our bed. I remember from my childhood it was the most horrifying feeling to be all alone after a frightening dream. I want them to feel comforted and safe.
In the morning I always make sure to ask them about the dream and talk it out with them so it gives that nightmare less power in their mind.
This goes for all my kids at any age! Even my teenager (even though he usually just tells me about his bad dreams in the morning nowadays).
Growing up I actually had bad dreams often. Unfortunately my mom as a single parent was simply too exhausted to come to my aid every time I had a bad dream. With balancing a full time job, part time university and single parenting- she needed a good night sleep without me “cuddling” next to her.
I’m blessed to be sharing the parenting role with my husband. Because of this I do have the energy to be there for my daughter when she calls in the middle of the night. My husband is a deep sleeper so he will not get up even if our four year old came to the room and smacked him in the face.
For me however, I can easily get up. Often time Esperanza is crying. So first I’ll let her talk about what happened in the dream so she can know that I empathize with her. Then I will pray with her about whatever fears she has based on the dream. Then we’ll discuss what she wants to dream about and I’ll let her go on about all the beautiful things in the world, (rain drops on roses, sound of music style).
Afterwards if she asks to sleep in our bed I’ll allow her. However if she doesn’t I won’t offer. I want her to be as independent as possible and know that she can follow this routine of processing her dreams and deciding to change them around on her own.
My child has never really slept well so we never got a good routine down and she ends up in my bed most nights anyway!
What I would do though if it’s continuous waking and this was her excuse I’d go in and cuddle her/sit by her bed and hold her hand back to sleep but in the end there’s no doubt about it that I’d give up and end up sleeping with her feet in my face 🙈.