boy and Q-Time Buddy Good night, sweet dreams! That’s what we all wish for our kids, but sadly some nights their dreams aren’t so sweet. How do you help your child calm down after a bad dream — or before bed if they’re too scared to go to sleep? Here, real parents like you share how they help their kids cope with nightmares.

We come up with ideas for other things he can dream about before bed: his favorite things to do, favorite memories, awesome play date ideas or places we could visit, like “You could dream about being on a spaceship and visiting a new galaxy!”
-Susan, mom to a 7-year-old boy

Monster spray works like a charm. Take an empty spray bottle, print out a label and add water with glitter. Anytime our son has a bad dream, we spray it around the room, sing a silly song, and he quickly calms down and falls back to sleep!
-Angel, mom to a 6-year-old boy

We are middle-of-the-night cuddlers. I walk my daughter back to bed, play a sleep CD, snuggle up for a few minutes to calm away her bad dreams, then sneak out.
-Jessica, mom to a 4-year-old girl

I stay especially close and connected during the day with a lot of physical play and one-on-one time with my kids when they’re having challenging dreams. I suspect that when kids don’t work through fears during the day, they end up processing those fears through dreams. 
-Elizabeth, mom to an 8-year-old boy and 5-year-old girl

I always tell my boys to say their prayers and ask God to watch over them while they sleep. It really helps.
-Colleen, mom to 6-year-old and 10-year-old boys

We make up a new dream. We start with location. Are we on the beach? In the woods? Then we add a favorite stuffed animal to come with us. Sometimes we take a hot air balloon ride and she puts all her favorite people in the basket. Then we imagine everything we can see from wherever we are. Combined with a sleepy-soft voice, this usually mellows her out enough to go back to sleep.
-Jen, mom to a 10-year-old girl

Want more tips? Try these to help your little one sleep tight all night long:

Establish a regular bedtime and routine with calming activities such as a bath, bedtime stories and cuddling with a favorite stuffed animal.

Avoid screen time before bed — even if it’s not scary, electronic media can amp up your child just when you want them to calm down.

Turn on a nightlight if your child’s afraid of the dark and open their bedroom door a crack.

Let your family pet sleep in your kid’s room if possible; having someone else nearby through the night can be a big comfort, whether it’s a German Shepherd or a goldfish.

Turn on your flight attendant voice, acknowledging your child’s fears but modeling calm. 

Place Q-Time Buddy or another stuffed animal on your child’s belly and watch it rise and fall as you take some deep breaths together at bedtime.

Say good night to each body part, from feet to head, relaxing the body as you go just before lights out.

Let your child know that everyone has bad dreams sometimes — and share what you do to feel better when you have one.