Stop waking her up. Really. I have night terrors. Here is basically what's happening in your daughters mind.
Say she is dreaming about monsters. When she starts screaming, she is physically awake, but her mind is still trapped in the terror. When she opens her eyes and looks at you, she sees the monster. When you grab her, the monster grabs her. She smells it, feels it, sees it, as far as her mind is concerned it is 100% real. The more you grab for her and try to wake her up, the more terrifying it becomes.
What my DH has to do for me is talk me down from it. So for you, you would just say over and over, "Mommy is here. It's me, mommy. Mommy took care of it. Mommy made it go away. It's all gone now. Mommy is here." Just keep reassuring her and telling her you are there. Don't tell her it's a dream because it's not.
at 1:22 PM on Feb. 1, 2009