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What should I do during my son's night terrors?

My son has just recently started having night terrors. He's 22 months old. He's always been a great sleeper and now he's waking up and just screaming and crying and thrashing himself around in his crib. We are taking him to the doctor this saturday morning to rule out anything serious (seizures, developmental disorders, etc.) but I used to have night terrors when I was a child too so Im pretty sure that is a big reason why DS is having them now. When I try to comfort him or calm him down he just screams, cries and thrashes worse than before I try to comfort him. What should I do? I feel helpless and its causing a great deal of anxiety because I feel I should be doing something. He has a great sleep schedule and we stick to a routine for almost everything, meal times, bath and bed time, naps, play time, etc. What am I doing wrong? Help!


Asked by dali_mama48161 at 1:30 PM on May. 28, 2009 in Toddlers (1-2)

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Answers (5)
  • No you are not being neglectful at all! But I know that it can feel that way. When they go into their night terrors they can enter a sort of amnesia-like stage where they literally do not know who you are and when you try to comfort them they will thrash harder to get away from you, which can be very dangerous. My daughter, who was a pacifier junkie, would freak out even if I tried to hand her the pacifier during a night terror. Of course after all is said and done they go back to sleep and we are left so upset and traumatized about the whole experience. Just know that you are doing the best thing by making sure he is safe.

    Answer by Duckieglc at 5:30 PM on May. 28, 2009

  • Sadly all you can do is make sure he is safe. I want to cry more than my daughter when she is having a night terror because I feel just awful that I can't comfort her through it. I put her in the middle of my bed and watch her to make sure she doesn't fall or hit her head. It's frustrating, trust me, I know.

    Answer by Duckieglc at 1:38 PM on May. 28, 2009

  • I, too, had horrible night terrors as a child. My parents said that there was literally nothing that they could do but make sure I did not harm myself while it happened. I do remember waking up in their arms, but if it's any consolation I never remembered the nightmares. I also had a battery of tests, they thought I had epilepsy, etc. There was nothing wrong and I outgrew them. I think you already know from having them yourself, that you are doing all you can, but when it is your child all you want to do is protect them. It must be so hard to feel helpless, but know that he will be ok and just be there with him and for him when he wakes up.

    Answer by carriemills at 2:16 PM on May. 28, 2009

  • So I am not being neglectful by just letting him cry it out after I have made sure nothing else is the matter and that he is safe? I feel that way.....

    Answer by dali_mama48161 at 2:18 PM on May. 28, 2009

  • my 2yr old almost 3 yr old daughter would wake up screaming, shaking, loud every night for about 4 days(i would sleep on the floor next to her bed).its was bad she would say that there was BEES in her bed!!!!! so i took her to the library and checked out books on BEES for her age. we read them everyday i told her they lived in the flowers etc... and got her a butterfly catcher. that was the end of her nightmares. it might help your son.

    Answer by Bellaaa at 12:41 AM on May. 29, 2009