One night I woke up to my toddler screaming. I went in his room to find him sitting in his bed with his eyes wide open and a startled look on his face.
I pick him up and he is not wet and seems to be nothing hurting.
While he is still screaming, I look around the room to see if there is anything that could have caused him to get so upset. But I find nothing.
The only thing I could think of was a bad dream that scared him pretty bad.
I later learned that my son had a night terror.
What are night terrors?
Night terror typically occurs in children from 2 to 6 years old. Night terrors are different somewhat different from nightmares.
When having a night terror, your toddler is never fully awake and probably doesn’t even know you’re there.
Your little one becomes confused and inconsolable. I know I started to feel helpless because I couldn’t comfort my little guy.
The good news is night terrors can often be treated without medication.
Treatment usually consists of simple changes in routine or interruption of sleep patterns. Even if your little one does not completely stop having night terrors with treatment, they will most likely outgrow them.
How should I handle a night terror?
Don’t wake them up
When you discover your child having a night terror, the first instinct is to wake up your child. Resist this urge because you will probably make your little one even more upset and confused. That’s the last thing you want.
Let the night terror take its course and know that your little one will likely not remember this in the morning.
Keep them safe
Some experts advise parents to gently console their child. But others say it is no point because they don’t know you’re there.
The most important thing you can do is make sure that the child is safe and doesn’t get hurt.
When a child is having a night terror, they may flail their arms and legs and some even bolt out of bed. So safety is huge.
Next, stay calm. It is hard because panic wants to set in because your little is inconsolable. But, stay calm.
You can try talking to your little one calmly until they calm down. Or sing their favorite song.
How do I prevent night terrors?
Prevent being too tired
One of the primary causes of night terrors is your little one being over-tired. Making sure that your toddler is getting enough sleep may reduce or eliminate the occurrence of night terrors.
Also, make sure that your little one has a scheduled bedtime. And they get to sleep by that time every night.
You can try putting your little one to bed earlier or waking them up later. Also, check to see if you need to extend their nap or be put down for an additional one during the day.
Check your child’s room
Sometimes there is something inside of your child’s room that will wake them up while they are in a deep sleep. It could be light or sound.
Be sure to check your child’s room that there are no external stimuli that could wake them up.
Also, pay attention to your child’s room and see if there is something that happens immediately before the night terrors.
Change sleep cycle
If the additional sleep doesn’t get rid of the night terrors, you may need to try interrupting your child’s sleep cycle.
Try waking your child up after about 1 to 2 hours of sleep, or about 15 minutes before the time the night terrors usually occur. This change in her sleep pattern could ward off the night terrors.
Talk to your pediatrician
If these methods do not work, talk to your child’s pediatrician. They may determine that medication is necessary to get rid of the night terrors.
As a mom, I know how scary night terrors can be. I promise night terrors are scarier for parents than they are for children.
Your child has no idea what is going on when they have one. And they will not remember it the next morning.
I hope that these tips will help achieve better night’s sleep for both you and your child.
This post is a part of the series 31 Days of Parenting Tips for Busy Moms With Young Kids. Each day throughout the series I am discussing a different topic regarding parenting young kids. I’d love for you to follow along and share this series with moms who may need some support or just to hear that they aren’t alone in their journey of raising young kids.
Find all of the posts in one place on the series homepage: 31 Days of Parenting Tips for Busy Moms With Young Kids