what dreams may come

The Potato has been expressing a lot of anxiety about going to bed lately. Nearly every night, before he goes to sleep, he tells me or landisdad that he’s worried about having bad dreams. He’s also been coming into bed with us in the middle of every night, which is getting a little crowded.

I’m not sure what it is going on with him that’s causing such anxiety. We’re not on the cusp of any big transition, although it feels like he’s worried about something beyond the normal hustle and bustle of life in preschool.

I wish I had a better strategy for dealing with it. We had a talk tonight about how he could try to chase away the bad dreams with good ones, but hell, I’m almost 40 and I haven’t figured out how to do that yet. Is it really likely that my four-and-a-half year old can?

There’s something about the human psyche that needs to come out in sleep. I just wish it didn’t happen to my kids. I’m looking for suggestions about how to deal with bad dreams. Any takers?


December 12, 2007. growing up.


  1. rachel replied:

    I actually wrote a whole post about this called Nighttime Magic
    If that helps any.
    We also did a thing where I would take a broom and sweep her whole room all the way to the door and then ‘draw a line’ with the broom at the door and it made her room bad dream proof. Swept out all the bad.
    The book that I talk about in the ^^^^ post mentioned up there is a wonderful book and deals with dreams bad and good and gives a really wonderful tip.
    Good luck, it is hard when our kids have these issues.

  2. chichimama replied:

    Again, no advice just lots of sympathy. A is having similar issues, and I have no idea how to handle it other than lots of snuggling and reassurances that they are just dreams and not real…

  3. CamiKaos replied:


    I don’t know how and I don’t know why but it worked on me as a child, it worked on my brother and it works on K.

    It started as a “Monster Mist” to keep away the spooks but it helped to keep my dreams sweet and banish the nightmares which I suffered from greatly as a child.

  4. Jay replied:

    I really like Rache’s suggestion.
    I spent some time working in the sleep lab, and with kids, you can often override their unconscious – during bed time rituals try to cultivate as many distractions as possible, like telling stories, counting blessings, etc.

  5. Jackie replied:

    My daughter S was having bad dreams recently, (she’s 5.5) and we talked about how hard it is sometimes to turn off your imgination when it’s bedtime or when it’s scaring you. Then we practiced giving her imagination a talking-to about how Sophie needed her sleep to grow strong and healthy and how she didn’t like being scared at night when she was trying to sleep. She thought it was very funny. We also have net crutains around each of their beds that hang from a ring in the ceiling, and we’ve talked about those being good ways to block bad thoughts.

  6. thordora replied:

    Have you tried giving him a piece of jewellry or clothing that’s yours so he’ll have a little bit of you in case he wakes up?

    I dont know…we’re currently dealing with “leave the lights on” at my house.

  7. Jessica replied:

    Awww, poor little guy. I know stability (even “ritualistic” behavior) can sometimes be comforting to young ones and have seen parents who go through a process every night of making sure they “bless” their room and belongings or recite a positive mantra, etc. It’s been so long since I’ve had a small one, though – I’m not much help!

  8. Susan replied:

    Curious Girl made a dreamcatcher jar (and I am slowly knitting her a circular lace dreamcatcher sort of thing)–we used tissue paper and modge podge to cover a jelly jar, and she put a few little Very Special Rocks in it to catch her bad dreams. She just thought of this, and it seems to give her some comfort. But she still needs me to fall asleep at night and in the mdidle of the night. Poor guy! I hope he moves through this sooner rather than later–it is hard to deal with dreams.

  9. Anjali replied:

    No suggestions, just sympathy, because bad dreams come to our house, too.

  10. Bubbles replied:

    You could get him a quilt with pictures of his favourite things such as puppy, cars, candy, ice-cream etc. So that he will be concentrating on all the good things in his quilt before he goes to sleep. Not my own idea. Saw a cartoon about Little Billy (by Bill Cosby) and this was the idea suggested. Do give it a try!

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