Your child 1-3 years

Dreams and nightmares, they are useful


Whether he dreams of a huge chocolate ice cream or nightmare on a horrible hairy spider, your toddler takes care of his psyche. Psychologist and psychoanalyst Lyliane Nemet-Pier explains why.

At what age does a child have dreams and nightmares?

  • Even if dreams sleep, or paradoxical sleep, exists as early as the fetal life, impossible to talk about real dreams and nightmares before 18 months or 2 years.
  • The true dream activity appears at the same time as the language and, especially, at the moment when the psychic activity begins to expand, when the child becomes able to identify the impulses of love and hatred bubbling in him. To dream, he must also have access to abstraction and symbolic thought, because dreams are images he makes to represent events, feelings.

Do we know what the dreams of a child are like?

  • At the time of the first dreams, around 2 years old, they are generally very simple, stuck to the reality of the day that has just passed and quite transparent. The child wants a ball, his desire is very strong: he dreams of this balloon. He ate an excellent strawberry pie and enjoyed it: he dreams of this famous pie. Most often, it is a single scene, an action.
  • As he grows up, that his psychic life develops, that his capacities to make a narrative with a beginning, a course and an end develop, his dreams become more complex in parallel. We can then speak of complex dream scenarios with changes of scenery, twists, entanglements of facts.

At what time of the night does he dream the most?

  • He dreams several times a night, but more in the second part. Indeed, the more the hours pass, more within each of the cycles the time of slow sleep decreases, whereas that of the paradoxical sleep lengthens. When the body begins to be well rested, it is the turn of the psyche to recover. Each turn!

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