It was around 4:00am in the morning and I was awakened by my 6 year old’s voice. “Mommy can you read the Bible or play the audio Bible, please?” He said in a calm and cute voice, but I knew he had a bad dream. So I asked, “Why? Did you watch something scary last night? Did you have a bad dream? What was it all about?” The investigator in me at 4:00am in the morning. Yeah, right. I couldn’t think of anything to ask him, I was just really trying to avoid standing up and reading in the middle of the night-or morning? “I can’t remember my dream. Just play the audio Bible,” he said sleepily.
I played the ESV audio Bible. Ten seconds later, it was interrupted by “We’ve played this one already.” What?! Just sleep!! Well, I said those thoughts in my mind. Like, how dare you choose a chapter, I’m so sleepy already! So, I scrolled for another Psalm and he closed his eyes. 10 minutes later, I turned it off. “I’m still awake, don’t turn it off. ” Really?! I need to sleep. Please, let me sleep!! Again, just in my mind. Just in my mind. He was able to sleep later on. It was funny, but I felt a sense of relief at his initial reaction after a bad dream.
Turning to God in the midst of nightmares
When my other two sons were younger, their initial reaction whenever they would wake up from a bad dream would be to wake me or my husband up and they would ask to be prayed for. For my youngest, this was the first time he had a nightmare and we were actually amused by his initial reaction. He asked for the word of God to be read to him. I honestly didn’t know what was going on in his mind and why he did it. I wanted to laugh, but I was too sleepy as well.
The whole thing really gave me a sense of relief that their immediate response to nightmare or fear was to turn to God.
Talking about the dream
When kids have dreams whether bad or good, you can let them talk about the dream later on if they can still remember them. You can help clarify some parts of the dream, especially for some of the impossible ones that might scare them. One time, my eldest had a dream of big potatoes trying to attack the city and there was lava, volcano, etc. I told him that the potatoes would become french fries in real life. They will be defeated instantly if that happens. He laughed and realized, there’s nothing to be scared of.
If it makes them scared, comfort them by hugging them while praying for them. As they grow older, allow them to pray, too.
- Empathize with your child, while also acknowledging that it is normal to have dreams and that everyone experiences them.
- Let your child talk about the dream.
- Pray for the people in the dream. If there are specific people in the dream, I always tell them to just simply say a prayer for them.
There are also things to avoid when talking about dreams to your kids.
- Don’t use dreams to scare kids. Don’t tell them that if they don’t do certain things the bad dream will come true. It is not healthy for the child and they will live in fear.
- Don’t use your child’s dream to bet on lotteries. Funny, but parents often think that when there are numbers in the dreams, they could be a sign to win the lottery and they would always ask their kids if they have dreamed of a number. When we do this, we allow our kids to depend on dreams and signs instead of trusting God. There are special occasions that God speaks through dreams, but it is usually about warnings, directions about His purpose and the advancement of His kingdom.
Lead them turn to God in the midst of life’s nightmares
Let’s continue to lead our kids to be dependent on God alone as much as we can. If they need anything whether material things or intangible ones, we lead them to the source of it all. The source of all wisdom, the source of all strength, the source of all knowledge, and many more. As parents, we are limited. The help we can give them can never be enough. Our time here on earth is also limited. So, we lead them to the one who is eternal, and that is God.
We can remind them that Jesus is interceding for them (Hebrews 7:25) and that he cares for them and that whenever they have struggles, just turn to God.