Bad dreams needn’t ruin your child’s sleeping patterns. Hypnotherapy could help them!
Have a watch of the video above. It’s interesting and reflects our fascination with dreams but do take it with a pinch of salt. Nobody truly knows the purpose of dreams and their meanings are better interpreted by the dreamer his or her own self, perhaps guided by a therapist, than by some supposed expert.
I’ve used hypnotherapy to help dozens of children in Reading, Oxford, Thame and Wallingford. I’ve seen children as clients for all kinds of reasons but one of the most easily resolved problems concerns insomnia and broken sleep caused by nightmares.
If your child is suffering from awful nightmares then hypnotherapy could provide the solution. I’ve used hypnotherapy to help such people on numerous occasions. I’m also, at the time of updating this post, very close to completing my Masters Degree in Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy. Completing this course has left me with a great deal of new skills and understanding regarding the development of children and how to help when things go wrong.
Persistent nightmares could point to your child having a hard time at school. Perhaps there’s a trauma from the past which the mind is attempting to process via the creation of such dreams. Perhaps exams, troubles with friendships, members of the opposite sex or even with family, lie beneath these dreams.
If you or your child is in need of some help with bad dreams then hypnotherapy – , combined with other approaches – as appropriate could help to put those nightmares to bed once more, once and for all.
Of course, adults can have nightmares too. I’ve used similar techniques with them.
I must say that I’ve yet to have a client who continued to have the same, recurring nightmare after using this simple technique with them. You could use it at home, yourself, for your own benefit or your child’s.
Please do bear the red writing in mind though. For your average person with an average and simple bad dream this technique is wonderful. Professional help is needed, however, should the dream be connected (directly or otherwise) to a trauma or where the person concerned is suffering from other anxieties or mental health concerns.
I will not accept responsibility should this approach be used in such a way to contravene my advice and thus causes extra distress. If your child is generally anxious, depressed or traumatised then please do seek professional help from a GP, a professional child and adolescent therapist such as myself or from organisations such as CAMHs.
If you do use this technique and find it works then please do share it on facebook, twitter or suchlike. It’s so easy that nobody need suffer from recurring nightmares ever again.
Children have excellent imaginations
Their imaginations have created this dream and they’re now going to bed worrying that it will come back. Of course, the more they worry about it the more likely it is that it will return. They can, however, use their imaginations to mess up the memory of this dream so that it can’t come back. The memory will have been corrupted.
Read the following script to your child or, if you have the problem, get the hang of it and run through it in your own mind
If your child’s dream is truly disturbingly horrific then you’re better off taking him or her to see a therapist. They could then talk things through and investigate any underlying problems before even thinking of attempting anything like this.
Don’t use it if you or your child have any form of mental health issue, psychosis, epilepsy, heart, blood pressure or breathing problem or where any real trauma has been experienced. This technique works well, however, when it’s your average monstery kind of bad dream and where it has just become a recurrent issue.
You are the best judge as to whether your child’s temperament and the nature of the dream are suitable for this approach. If in doubt, don’t. Furthermore, don’t start using this to help others outside of the family. You don’t know what you might be dealing with.
Have your child lie down on a bed or simply encourage them to relax in an armchair or sofa. Read the whole thing through to yourself before you begin.
‘OK, I’d like you to just take some deep breaths, close your eyes and pretend to be asleep. That’s right, pretend to be so fast asleep that your body just rests there all cosy and comfortable. Your arms and legs are all floppy and loose, just as they are when you’re fast, fast asleep.
Pretend you’re lying in bed all cosy and warm, letting every breath leave you feeling a little bit more relaxed. Imagine how the duvet feels all warm and soft around you. This is going to be the best night’s sleep you’ve ever had.
As I keep talking you can continue to let yourself relax until you hardly need to pretend anymore. As I keep talking I’d like you to picture your favourite cartoon character in your mind. Picture that cartoon character on a giant TV screen standing in front of you. This cartoon character is going to be the star of your not-so-bad dream. In a few moments’ time we’re going to play that dream through in your imagination but you’re going to feel all cosy and relaxed as you watch it.
Before we begin playing that dream through we’ll need some music. So, imagine your favourite silly song playing in your head as you see that cartoon character on the screen. Hear it as clearly as you can and keep playing it through as you begin the dream on the screen, feeling all comfortable and relaxed.
As the dream begins keep it moving ever so slowly with your favourite character as the star of the show. Notice how everything in the dream changes into a cartoon, with that silly music playing over the top. Hear the music and see how calmly your favourite character deals calmly and confidently with the problem in the dream. That character can do whatever it takes to make this dream come to a happy ending. Speed the dream up to normal speed now. Notice how relaxed you feel as you play this dream through.
(parent, if your child becomes agitated at any point simply stop, ask them to open their eyes gently on the count of three and don’t attempt it again. Take your child to see a qualified therapist if this dream continues)
The dream will soon going to come to a happy ending. You can recognise the dream but it’s all cartoony and the music keeps playing. You recognise the things which happened in your dream but this time it’s all a cartoon and this time you can invent your own happy ending. That’s it. Invent your own happy ending now and play it through to the end where everything finishes all happy, safe and calm.
(give them a few seconds to finish this and have them confirm that it’s done with a nod)
Good! Well done.
OK, this time we’re going to play the dream through again, but this time you’ll see it as if you’re in the dream watching. It will all end in the same happy way and you’ll see the same things and hear the same happy music. Give me a nod when you’re done.
(wait for the nod)
Well done! OK, lastly, we’ll replay the dream one last time but this time you’re the superhero of the dream. You’re in the dream this time, seeing through your own eyes. You solve the problem, beat the baddies (or become friends with them) and make everything end happily. Let your imagination go wild, imagine the best possible ending and give me a nod when it’s done.
(wait for the nod)
Good. Now I’d just like you to count backwards from three to one. When you get to one and whenever you’re ready, you can open your eyes feeling fully awake and happy that this dream won’t ever come back to you again.’
A few more tips, just to make sure…
For the next few nights change your child’s bedtime routine. Make it as different, amusing and playful as you can. Have them brush their teeth whilst hiding, having you hunt for them. Have them change into nighties or pyjamas in your room whilst singing to funny songs. Change their duvet cover, give them different pillows. You get the idea. make it different and fun. If the bad dream was becoming a part of their routine then changing the routine will weaken the dream still further.
I’m a psychotherapist using hypnotherapy to change people’s lives in Oxford, London (Clerkenwell and Holborn), Reading, Thame and Wallingford, Berkshire and Oxfordshire, UK.
I can be contacted via 07786 123736 / 01183 280284 or 01865 600970. Alternatively, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org