If a recurring dream presents a situation where our personal safety, or the safety of those close to us, is threatened, or if any of our cherished beliefs, or our view of ourself and the world is under threat, we would probably call it a nightmare.
Nightmares are common with children, but they can persist for many years into adulthood. Sometimes they go away for a long time, only to return at a later stage of our lives.
Usually, nightmares and recurring dreams represent unfinished business that we bring in from other realities. They often point to unresolved fears. But whatever they represent, we usually wake in some form of agitation. Fully alert. Our heart racing. Unable to go back to sleep. Not wanting to go back to sleep because of a fear of going straight back into the same dream scenario.
The only way to deal with the monsters of your dreams is to become aware of what they symbolise. You need to be open and honest with yourself to do this, and the journey may take many years.
When a child wakes from a nightmare, it usually helps to reassure them that they are safe here, in this reality. Get them to tell you the storyline of their nightmare and take the trouble to write it down for them, the same as you would with your own dreams. Remind them that their dream symbols are just that. Symbols. That these dream symbols don't have any power in this reality unless they choose to surrender their magic powers to their dream symbols.
Remind the child that they are the directors of their own dreams. They can use their own magic to banish harmful symbols from both their dreams, and their day-to-day realities. Don't worry, children take to this method quite naturally, often better than adults. But if you have recorded the dream, then you can begin to work with the child consciously, at a later time, when they are ready to begin exploring the symbols consciously for themselves.
The same applies to you. Reassure yourself that you are safe here in this reality. Nothing can harm you unless you choose to surrender your own powers of magic. It may help to get out of bed and make a cup of tea. Breathe deeply and centre yourself here in this reality before you begin to write down the dream. This will allow you to look at the symbols more objectively.
You will find that once the dream has been written down and acknowledged properly that you can go back to sleep easily. Just make sure that you record the dream faithfully. You don't have to interpret it before you rush off to catch the train for work. Once the dream has been written down, you can come back and explore the symbols in detail at your leisure.