Night Terrors??

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by TPaul, Nov 22, 2009.

  1. TPaul

    TPaul Idecor8

    I have noticed a few post on various threads speaking of night terrors. Every one of my children have had night terrors up until the time they are about 7 to 8 years of age. My youngest daughter is almost 7 and is having them only on an occasional basis now.

    Have many others of you had children that have had night terrors, and if so are they the difficult child children or some of both. I know that it takes a great deal of time to get them woke up when having one of these and they can become so exhausting when happening on a nightly basis.

    Interested to hear others experiences.

  2. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    My son J (who is most definitely a difficult child) had night terrors at age 4 following a tonsillectomy. We were told it was from the anesthesia. The night terrors eventually resolved on their own.

    We were counseled by our pediatrician not to wake J in the midst of a night terror, but rather just to be there with him and console him even if he didn't remember the episode the next morning. Why do you wake your children from night terrors?
  3. serenityprayer

    serenityprayer New Member

    My difficult child has experienced night terrors since infancy I believe! I never understood what was happening until he was in kindergarten and we got the ADHD & anxiety disorder diagnosis...went to therapy and he would draw out the dreams, they were so awful. They have only gotten worse..he is in 3rd grade now, and he will fall out of bed, hit his head on the dresser, etc. Now we know he is a bipolar, and with childhood onset bipolar disorder..can come horrific night terrors. They have gotten less frequent on the risperdal now but we are not at a therapeutic level of medicine.

    We do not try to wake him up but typically we do not hear him in his room and he will come to us terrified. The dreams are horrifically gorey and extremely graphic and scary...where most wake up before we get hurt, he will get hurt and torn apart and feel it, etc. This is very disturbing for him and hurts to see your kid go through it. My difficult child also has a hard time sleeping..he does not get into much of a REM state and the doctor said it is causing the night terrors. I think his fear and anxiety is so great due to the night terrors..he now is afraid to be in his room alone or go to the bathroom alone and he has a hard time distinguishing reality from fantasy or a dream state from an awake state.

    Hope that helps! :sad-very:
  4. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Personally, I think some night terrors can happen with any child, difficult child or not. My son had them until about 8 or 9yo, but was not considered a difficult child until a couple of years later. He didn't have them real bad though- there was one reoccurring nightmare about being attacked. He would have it maybe 4--5 times a year and it went on for several years. He woke up on his own usually.
  5. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    My difficult child 1 had them as a toddler, and the got worse after his tonsillectomy at age 4, similar to smallworld's son. They finally subsided by the time he was in second grade, if I remember right. He is an inherently anxious kids.

    None of my other kids had this problem.
  6. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    gcvmom, my son's ENT told us night terrors are very common following childhood surgery. Wow, our sons are both anxious, had tonsillectomies at age 4 and suffered from night terrors. What a coincidence.
  7. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    My difficult child never had night terrors but my easy child did quite often when she was younger (of course, some days I do wonder if she is a difficult child).
  8. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    SW, mine must be the west coast evil twin of yours! :rofl:
  9. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator


    True, but mine's in Utah right now so he's a lot closer to you than he is to me. So watch out . . .
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2009
  10. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

  11. TPaul

    TPaul Idecor8

    Some interesting coincidences shown my the post so far.

    Someone asked why we have woken ours up during thier terror. Typically our children will go on from 30 minutes to even and hour crying and screaming rather loudly. With a entire house ful of kids, their sleep would be interupted up to several times at night. That made for tired kids in the morning, cranky kids in the morning and tired and cranky parents in the morning.
  12. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Yes, mine would disturb the whole house as well (sorry for hijacking your thread!) and I was already sleep deprived having two younger children (one of which I was still nursing). It can be hard on the whole family.
  13. totoro

    totoro Mom? What's a GFG?

    K had night terrors pretty bad until about 6 1/2 now they are few and far between. Her psychiatrist then, from Walter Reed treated her with Prazosin, used for PTSD in Soldiers originally, it seemed to help her back then.
  14. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I had bad night terrors as a kid. They continued as occasional bad nightmares. They were horrible and what I wanted more than anything else was for someone to comfort me and help me feel safe. in my case, I would either be awake or dream I was awake but with shadows coming to life in weird and horrible shapes, all mosnters of vrious kinds that would rush at me to attack me if I dared close my eyes. I would try to scream but no sound would come out. When I was older (into my teens) I would sometimes lie awake for hours not daring to move (I counted the time from the chiming of the clock).

    It was one thing I valued a great deal about getting married - I had someone to reach out for if I woke up from a nightmare.

    What worked for me best - having access to a bed lamp that I could switch on if I needed it. The lamp would banish allshaows which would immediately make me feel safe. A torch is no good because whwn you use a torch, shadows move.

    My parents felt that giving me a bed lamp or night light would stop me from lerning to cope. In fact I feel it was the wrong approach - what I needed was the chance to control my fears myself by having a light I could choose to switch on or off as I felt I could cope. I did later try to acclimatise myself to the dark, it wasn't the dark that was the problem. It was the combination of my imagination plus a highly active mind.

    With the kids - the boys especially would get bad nightmares. All the kids did, but the boys would have waking terrors. easy child 2/difficult child 2 also had nightmares, I put it down to the very active mind. I would encourage the kids to come and let me know if they had nightmares. They always had their own bed lamp plus when they were little a night light as well. I'm sure it helped reduce the intensity of the problem.

    When te kids came to me to let me know they had a nightmare, I would encourage them to talk about it, to tell me what thye were dreaming about. That way I could help work out what the cause was. Often it wasn't so much something for them to avoid, as an aid to help me identify what was over-stimulating them or what was worrying them.

    I know when I was very young, if I dreamed about animals of any kind, even our family pets or something as beautiful as butterflies, somehow in my dream the animals woud distort and become something evil. I remember my mother trying to help me by suggesting I dream about butterflies - I had an appalling nightmare tat night which began with butterfleis in the garden.

    I needed to develop my own coping strategies, including teaching myself to wake myself up if I observed a dream "going bad". I also learned that if I woke up enough to change position, that often it was enough to change whatever was going on in my brain enough to "change topic" in the dream. So a tip I gave my kids, after they had come to me, snuggled up, told me about their dream - was to send them back to bed telling them to make sure they lay down on the other side. I told them that if they woke from a bad dream, to roll over and the bad dream would then trickle out of their ear (the one now facing the pillow) and go away.

    So why the apparent correlation of bad dreams with difficult children? I tihnk it's to do with the amount of stimulation in their day. A bright kid can get a lot of information into their head in a day. A difficult child who has a lot to cope with and a great deal to have to learn, will often be concentrating very hard, a lot more than the average kid (even if it doesn't look it sometimes). So again, when they go to sleep their brains have a lot more 'filing" to do, and it is the process of assimilating and organising the inforamtion gained through the day, that can sometimes cause nightmars as these images and concepts get jumbled. The brain is not only filingthe information, it is trying to make sense of it and cotinue the thinknig process. This is where dreams come from. If there is a problem not resolving, the brain is tapping the consciousness on the shoulder, trying to alert the sleeper to the need to do something about a problem. The best you can do is equip your child with the skills to learn to manage their own dreams, including teaching them to recognise what various symbols mean. And I don't agree with Freud, I don't think it's all about sex. Maybe it was for him, but not for everybody. Symbols will mean slightly different things to different people, over time you do work it out for yourself but there are some universal symbols which, if not exactly correct, will come close. For example, to dream about death usually means NOT death, but change. To dream about your house (especially any space you identify as yours) is to actually be dreaming about your own mind, your own sense of self. To dream about being in someone else's house MAY mean that you're still dreaming about your own mind, but it could be that aspect of yourself as it relates to the person whose house you are in, in the dream. What you were doing in that house, what was happening to you in that house, often represents your fears, or your ambitions, for yourself.

    The emotions felt during the dream are also important and often add extra layers to the meaning of a dream. And I found that once a child was helped to understand what the dream meant (and it was usually far less sinister than the dream appeared) they learned to cope, plus they learned to not fear their dreams so much.

    My own methods of helping our kids with their nightmares were undoubtedly born form my own nasty experiences. I didn't want my kids to suffer for years as I did.

  15. 30 and searching

    30 and searching New Member

    My youngest has night terrors. He screams and cries... his little arms are shaking, and he's sweaty. He has them occasionally, but I've noticed they happen more frequently when he's sick. It is awful to see him like that! They typically last about 15 minutes.

    I haven't found a whole lot of info about night terrors, and some of the things I have read are conflicting. Some say not to wake them up, others say it's fine to wake a child up, just to be very gentle about it. We have done both... still not sure what is best. I feel so helpless that I can't bring him out of it!

    I just had to add my experience, because I don't see this subject brought up often... my 4 year old just had one a couple nights ago. I hope he grows out of them!
  16. 30 and searching

    30 and searching New Member

    Just one more thing I forgot to add... some people say they run in families. My younger brother had them when he was little, and also would walk in his sleep.
  17. TPaul

    TPaul Idecor8

    My little ones also sleep walk. They can get up and roam the house, have a conversation, though not a very coherent one sometimes, and even go to the frig for a snack and be completely asleep with thier eyes wide open. We will just try to direct them back to bed and watch them head back that way. We do have a top latch on our door for the reason of making sure they do not wander outside.

    Just last night I was discussing with Levi, our difficult child, about having to wake him up when we have forgotton to give him his medications. He said,"Dad you have only woke me up one time to do that". I told him I have had to wake him up many times and he said he doesn't even remember me doing that.

  18. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    Years ago when I was still working and husband was still alive, he got to listen to me take many a computer support call in my sleep.

    I'd pick up the phone, walk a technician through a solution, hang up, and go back to sleep.

    I never remembered the calls, but obviously it all worked out fine as I didn't get any complaints. It used to really weird husband out , though.
  19. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    :rofl: I had a few weird sleep-calls with work when I was in college and trying to survive on way too little sleep. I finally had to unplug the phone when I went to sleep because, unlike you, my responses would make no sense.

    Tigger had night terrors when he was little but now he has the occasional nightmare but no terrors in a few years. I had night terrors for years. My last memorable one was when I was 14 and at a sleepover -- completely freaked everyone out :redface: Luckily, I had warned my friend's mom.