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Waking Dad After a Bad Dream

One night, I woke up with a start. My room was dark and quiet.

The human body can wake up suddenly from dreams due to fear or unexpected stimuli.

Starting in Small, with brown hair and blue eyes's bedroom, dark and quiet

I had a bad dream about a big, scary monster. It made me feel afraid.

Bad dreams, also known as nightmares, are common in young children and can be very vivid.

Child explaining their scary dream and feeling afraid

I decided to go to Dad's room. I tiptoed quietly down the hall.

Tiptoeing helps make less noise because only a small part of the foot touches the floor.

Child walking quietly down a dark hallway to Dad's room

When I reached Dad's door, I knocked softly. 'Dad?' I whispered.

Softly knocking and whispering reduces the chance of waking others while seeking help.

Child knocking softly on Dad's bedroom door, whispering

Dad opened the door, looking sleepy. 'What is it, buddy?' he asked.

Sleep inertia makes people feel groggy and disoriented right after waking up.

Dad at the door, looking sleepy and concerned

'I had a bad dream,' I said. My voice was shaky.

Children often seek comfort from caregivers after frightening experiences, including bad dreams.

Child explaining the bad dream to sleepy Dad, feeling shaky

Dad knelt down and gave me a big hug. 'It's okay,' he said kindly.

Hugging releases oxytocin, a hormone that reduces stress and promotes feelings of safety.

Dad hugging the Small, with brown hair and blue eyes warmly and reassuringly

He took my hand and led me back to my room. We turned on a small night light.

Night lights provide a small amount of light to help reduce fear of the dark.

Dad leading Small, with brown hair and blue eyes back to bedroom, turning on night light

Dad sat on my bed and said, 'Let's talk about something happy.'

Distracting the mind with pleasant thoughts can help reduce the impact of frightening experiences.

Dad sitting on Small, with brown hair and blue eyes's bed, suggesting talking about happy things

We talked about our fun trip to the zoo. I felt better thinking about the animals.

Positive memories, such as family outings, can provide comfort and reduce anxiety.

Child and Dad recalling a fun zoo trip, feeling comfort

Dad tucked me in and kissed my forehead. 'Sweet dreams,' he said.

Rituals like tucking in and goodnight kisses can create a sense of security for children.

Dad tucking in the Small, with brown hair and blue eyes and giving a goodnight kiss

I snuggled under my blanket and closed my eyes. I felt safe and ready to sleep again.

Feeling safe and comforted can help a child easily fall back to sleep after waking up from a nightmare.

Child snuggling under blanket, feeling safe and sleepy

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