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To ask how to get our 4 year old to stop shouting/crying in the middle of the night?

(59 Posts)
farfarawayfromhome Fri 30-Jun-17 18:00:42

A few months ago DD, aged 4, started waking up screaming blue murder in the night. She was inconsolable, heart racing, tears running down her face. We thought it was night terrors, and because we both work, and she sleeps in a double bed, one of us would jump in to comfort her and sleep with her (I know, I know).

Fast forward a few months and she now still wakes up shouting for us, but I don't think it's night terrors, she just wants one of us to sleep with her. She will not stop until one of us cracks and does it.

We've tried sticker charts, bribery and also leaving her alone to see if she calms down, she never does. She gets more and more and more upset to the point of heaving. By which point both of us have been woken up and it's the middle of the night and we're exhausted...

We thought it was just a phase but it has been four months or so now and we know we can't continue like this...but have no clue how to stop it.

If you've faced the same can you please share examples of what has worked for you?

PotatoPrint Fri 30-Jun-17 18:05:25

She needs comfort because she's scared. May be nightmares rather than night terrors . Maybe if you comfort her regularly she will know its safe and calm down?

Is there anything she's anxious about?

My little one woke often screaming from sleep apnea (as she was stopping breathing and scared). Now shes 5 she still gets some night terrors/night mates. It's quite rare thankfully!!

farfarawayfromhome Fri 30-Jun-17 18:24:38

Potato we do comfort her every single night and end up sleeping in with her, she falls asleep really quickly then so must feel safe. And that's been happening for four months so I'd hope she knows she is safe and going to be comforted.

I can't think of anything she's anxious about. If asked why she's shouting she says "because I love you and want a cuddle."

Don't get me wrong, I couldn't leave her if I thought she was terrified (and haven't) but I really think after four months of it she is doing it out of habit. And we are both exhausted from the broken sleep....

Covfefe Fri 30-Jun-17 18:30:43

I had this trouble. I'd go in and cuddle him or reassure him until he was drowsy then say I needed the loo and would be back. He was usually asleep by the time I got back.

PotatoPrint Fri 30-Jun-17 18:33:24

I mean is there anything in the day she's anxious about? My eldest had a funny weeks sleep when exams were on in school but she hadn't consciously linked them.

You said you'd tried crying until she heaves hence suggesting you tried regular comfort.

Maybe cosleep for a bit until she settles. Or we had a "readybed" on the floor in our room for a bit, so near us and easily settled but not in our bed.

Other things we did was a "glowy" toy she could press for music which helped at one point and she could settle herself.

She sleeps now though thankfully!

missanony Fri 30-Jun-17 18:34:24

"We love you but it is unkind to wake someone else at nighttime. When you do that the other person is tired and grumpy the next day. Nighttime is for sleeping and daytime is for cuddles."

No talking or cuddles and night. Discuss it only in the day. If crying loudly just say I understand that you're upset but we will talk about it tomorrow as it's nighttime now and time to sleep. No need to be mean but def firm

farfarawayfromhome Fri 30-Jun-17 18:40:07

Yes one night we tried to reason with her and refuse to get into bed with her, we gave up after 15 minutes as it was dreadful.

We have been co-sleeping for the last four months...I was hoping it was a phase but it's such a long one!

farfarawayfromhome Fri 30-Jun-17 18:40:50

missanony what do I do then if she just keeps on screaming and getting more and more hysterical?

ZZZZ1111 Fri 30-Jun-17 18:45:31

Missanony I don't agree. We don't stop being parents just because it's night-time. And some children need reassurance and cuddles at night-time. Do you never want a cuddle at night? How would you feel if your partner said that to you when you were feeling vulnerable at night?

Believeitornot Fri 30-Jun-17 18:48:51

I remember at about that age I used to have terrifying nightmares. I would lie there and not bother calling for mum because I knew she wouldn't come, but still remember the fear!

Is she an only child? Can she's share with a sibling?

Is she warm enough? Does she watch much tv? What does she do before bed?

missanony Fri 30-Jun-17 18:50:40

what do I do then if she just keeps on screaming and getting more and more hysterical?

I say that I understand they're upset but it's time to calm down now. You're going to stay there for 2 minutes and then they can calm down on their own. That's what I do in the daytime when they want to cry over something small for 30 minutes anyway

QueenArseClangers Fri 30-Jun-17 18:50:43

Our DD went through a phase of night terrors then nightmares around this age.
Only thing to do is ride it out with compassion and patience. Hard, I know, when you're knackered.

She'll grow out of it but I really doubt she's doing it on purpose. Early nights are your friend flowers

missanony Fri 30-Jun-17 18:53:08

We don't stop being parents just because it's night-time. And some children need reassurance and cuddles at night-time. Do you never want a cuddle at night? How would you feel if your partner said that to you when you were feeling vulnerable at night?

At 4 they should be sleeping through. I don't wake my partner up at night because I want a cuddle, no.

If it's a one off and genuinely upset, of course I'd be there but a bad habit is a different matter

Meatbadger Fri 30-Jun-17 18:56:32

We've been having a similar problem with our 3.5 year old. Definitely started as genuine nightmares but then she just got into the habit of waking and wanting one of us. It's been really tough esp as 1 year old often wakes and I bring her into our bed.

There have been plenty of nights where OH has been relegated to the sofa and I've had both girls in with me. We've gone overboard on praise and rewards on the odd night she's slept through. And now we've got to a point where she knows she'll get a new toy if she does 5 nights in a row. That incentive wouldn't have worked straight away as previously she'd just say she didn't want the toy any more, but it seems to be helping now.

Ultimately we've just had to grit our teeth and get through it as best we can, knowing that it won't last forever. Easier said than done I know but if you're not prepared to leave them upset and screaming (which we weren't other than on a couple of occasions where tiredness got the better of us) I don't think there's an awful lot you can do other than make a massive fuss when they do sleep through and hope that it makes them want to do it again!

Hope things improve for you soon.

Meatbadger Fri 30-Jun-17 18:59:13

Missanony the argument of age doesn't really mean friend's little boy didn't walk until he was 2 (nothing wrong with him just slow to walk). Should she have stopped using a pushchair because he should have been able to walk at that age?

witsender Fri 30-Jun-17 19:01:34

It won't be forever. And the partner analogy is false really as if I feel scared or whatever in the night I can roll.over and he's there.

If she has a double bed presumably you get a comfy night's sleep? I'd just roll with it. Not all children sleep through at 4, there is no 'should' about it.

Buthewasstillhungry Fri 30-Jun-17 19:02:19

Why don't you co sleep with her for a few months until she feels secure? You and your DH cuddle up but she is left on her own?!
She'll only be this small for a such a short time, could you try it to give her a sense of security?

farfarawayfromhome Fri 30-Jun-17 19:02:24

Thanks meatbadger that's pretty much our attitude.

We're resigned to it, to the point that when we are really knackered one of us sometimes goes straight into her bed and sleeps there at our bedtime. That way when she wakes up she goes straight back to sleep again and one of us gets a full night's sleep, the other gets an almost full night's sleep.

Here's hoping that at four months, this phase is drawing to a close...

farfarawayfromhome Fri 30-Jun-17 19:04:16

Just to clarify, that's four months of us co-sleeping and facing this problem, not that my DD is four months old...for anyone who hasn't read the full thread!!

Catch583 Fri 30-Jun-17 19:04:33

Night terrors must be really terrifying for small children. She's probably afraid to sleep in case it happens again, she won't have cheerfully put it behind her, and needs reassurance. What's wrong with one of you going into bed with her until she no longer needs it?

witsender Fri 30-Jun-17 19:14:03

I get night terrors as an adult, not as much as I used to but they were awful, really terrifying.

kittytom Fri 30-Jun-17 19:18:26

I would (and do) just co-sleep if called on in the night. Not for everyone but I am happy with it as long as needed (Kids aged 7 and 3)

Angelicinnocent Fri 30-Jun-17 19:20:08

Same as pp, cuddle up until she's calm and sleepy then whisper that you are going to the toilet but will be back. Mine used to be asleep before I came back

GlitterRoseGold Fri 30-Jun-17 19:21:21

I had night terrors when I was younger and when they went away I used to pretend I still had them so I could sleep beside my mum and dad. I was about 8 I think but very scared of the dark

Meatbadger Fri 30-Jun-17 19:22:12

@angelicinnocent that didn't work for my DD! She seemed to be on super high alert even if I waited until I thought she was asleep

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