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Coping with Night terrors/tantrums with 2.8 year old

(5 Posts)
yawningbear Wed 27-Jul-11 18:21:54

DD is 2.8, has never been good sleeper, things have got worse again since arrival of DS 5 months ago. Most recently I have tried to get rid of her day time nap in the hope that this would help her settle more quickly at night. It hasn't really worked and has had an impact on her behaviour. Most recent development is that when she wakes in the night rather than just calling out for me she goes into full blown tantrum mode. It is not happening every night but when it does it is extreme. Last night she seemed not to be fully awake to begin with and initally was making no sense, it lasted about 20 minutes maybe longer and at times she was in such a rage, lots of screaming and head banging. It is really quite distressing to watch and I have no idea how to deal with it. I have tried different strategies none seeming to work. We live in a flat so I need to be aware of noise so not so easy to completely leave her to it. Has anyone else dealt with this?

LowLevelWhiiingeing Wed 27-Jul-11 18:28:00

My DS used to have night terrors (as did my DP as a kid) and it is VERY distressing to watch.

Is it as if she can't see/hear you? Like you're not even there?

After doing a bit of googling I found out that the only negative thing about night terrors is for the observer IYSWIM. The child just gets through it and can't remember it at all afterwards. There was nothing I could do that would bring about the end of each terror any quicker, so the only thing I could do was to make sure he was safe, wait for it to pass and console him once he kind of 'woke up'. He would then settle very easily.

Once I knew what was going on and that I just had to wait each time, this made it mentally much easier to deal.

Good luck!

yawningbear Wed 27-Jul-11 18:51:33

Thanks LowLevelWhiiingeing, that is really reassuring, although I think she was aware of what was happening after the first five minutes or so, but perhaps we had woken her by that point so she moved into tantrum mode, I am not sure. Certainly to begin with I don't think she was fully awake or aware of me, nothing I said or did helped other than to distress her further. How long did your DS have them for? Did you just stay in the room and stay quiet whilst it was going on?

LowLevelWhiiingeing Wed 27-Jul-11 20:05:14

He had them for probably about a year, and like you, nothing I said or did made any difference. In the end I would just sit near him quietly, kind of looking out for signs that he was coming to.

I can see how she could wake up confused and adrenaline pumping etc and it would be easy for it to turn into a tantrum. It might be worth trying non-verbal strategies to calm her as I don't think at that age (and in that heightened state of arousal) they can take in questions or rational sentences. So calm voice, calm body language, dim lighting, reassuring presence and shushing etc. But do be reassured that each incident will pass (even though it feels like a lifetime!) and she'll probably grow out of it. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

My DS started with them around bonfire night time and he was terrified of the noises. I did wonder if it was linked, kind of like a constant state of anxiety affecting his sleep processes?

bear1234 Sun 07-Aug-11 13:06:43

My first still has night terrors and my second looks like she is heading that way too. I recently got given a bunch of leaflets etc through my son's school nurse. Pretty helpful, but similar advice to other sites - there's a really helpful video on YouTube telling you what to do. They say to try and time it so that you lightly wake them 15 mins or so before it happens, but my son doesn't seem to kick off at the same time every night. I know this worked for my friend though. You're not supposed to talk to them or touch them, but I find this too hard. He never remembers it in the morning, but it really freaks me out. He screams "no, stay away from me" at nothing and had me convinced our house was crawling with ghosts!! Still not completely sure it's not a sixth sense thing lol

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