Nightmares in Children Research

Most common nightmares in children

  • From psychologists Lauri Quinn Loewenberg and Michael Vigo.
  • Threatening animals – these animals feature in children’s stories, so children use them to symbolise bad guys in their dreams
  • Abandonment – separation anxiety, fears of being left alone
  • Monsters – generally, monsters will be an embodiment of what the child fears the most
  • Insects – fear of the unknown, feeling insecure about a situation
  • Being eaten – children’s stories (Red Riding Hood) may be responsible for this, could be linked the being a picky eater
  • Getting lost – change of routine
  • Being trapped or kidnapped – likely to occur when the child feels helpless in a situation, the kidnapped symbolises the child’s world has been turned upside down
  • Toys that come to life – symbol for being confused and afraid because someone has acted out of character; broken routine
  • Being chased – negative or stressful situation that the child is trying to run away from
  • Being unable to move – if children feel unable to become independent in real life, they are likely to feel paralyzed in their dreams

The dark side of nursery rhymes

  • According to child development experts Sue Palmer and Ros Bayley, nursery rhymes with music significantly aid a child’s mental development and spatial reasoning